"Cool" roof?

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I am hopefully going to be purchasing this home (I am the secondary but it's possible the primary may walk away). It needs a new roof and I have negotiated this into my offer (I will get money from sellers at closing to put towards a new roof). This house has hot water heat so no central air. They do have a permanent window unit in the kitchen area but the master br is upstairs and I know I will get hot sleeping in the summer.
I heard about "Cool Roof" materials and am interested. I won't be able to afford a metal roof and think they are butt ugly anyway. Are cool roof's only metal or are there traditional shingle roofing materials that will help with keeping the upstairs cooler?
Also, I am already considering installing a split AC unit in the master (or a portable unit depending on how much all the other stuff I need to fix is going to cost me :/) Any help/info would be appreciated :)
 12 answers
  • Me Me on Apr 07, 2015

    It seems that the roof systems come in several types of materials. And you know that a lighter color also helps,right? I have some friends who love their "mini-splitter". Also, consider a really good quality ceiling fan. They make big difference.

  • Cvmarin Cvmarin on Apr 07, 2015

    Cool roof material? Don't know... I did move into a similar house and installed the split zone system... I'm reasonably happy with it... although I don't believe it handles extremes as well as a central HVAC system. For an extra $1,500 a "heat exchange" was included to system: this saves some money by only heating/cooling rooms in use... but youre not supposed to use heat if temos drop below 25 degrees (but I still have original "oil/"hot water" system which turns on automatically if temp drops below 60-- more expensive than split zone system). Thus, I use split zone to keep temp above 60 so more expensive system only kicks on in unused rooms... To prevent pipes from freezing! If its on too long the aircan get pretty dry... i just keep a couple house plants well watered so evaporation helps as a natural humidifier. The cooling works sufficiently but doesnt usually go below about 74-75 on hottest days. A godsend regardless in miserable weather.... Hallways may not get equally cool/warm. Best is that you can minimize heating/cooling in unused rooms.

  • Pete Wells Pete Wells on Apr 08, 2015

    Cool roofs? When its 90 degrees out, you'll still be miserable, the shade trees make a bigger difference..for AC, the split-level is one of the most difficult plans to retrofit, the 'mini-split' systems work well and would cause the least disruption..

  • Katie Katie on Apr 08, 2015

    I don't know about "cool roof" materials but insulation and proper attic venting are your best friends. Whatever you decide to do, have a professional come and make sure your roof has more than adequate insulation and has sufficient venting. It makes a huge difference (winter and summer). Shade, Shade, Shade! Those trees are worth their weight in energy savings!

    • Duv310660 Duv310660 on Apr 08, 2015

      @Katie I am seconding Katie's remarks pro insulation and venting. I have never owned any AC in my life; have lived in various buildings between Windsor and Toronto in the last 40 years with high temps & humidity after growing up in lovely coastal So. California. My current home (since 1992) is well insulated with a fan for breeze - I've never had to sleep downstairs or in the basement.

  • KTsr KTsr on Apr 08, 2015

    You can buy "Cool Roof" fiberglass shingles in several colors; however, they are much more expensive and are only required to maintain their "coolness" for 3 years. Depending on where you live, you may be able to purchase one white/silver shingle color in a standard shingle that will meet the cool roof requirements without costing extra. . Katie, from Canada, is correct about good insulation and venting. It will make a big difference. Trees also, just keep the branches and leaves off your roof. (I am a roofer's wife!)

  • Pat G Pat G on Apr 08, 2015

    If you don't get the house, it may not be a problem? I agree about the venting and insulation. There are 2 venting methods. One puts a continuous line of vents under the roof peak shingles. The other puts lots of vents under the roof overhang. Guess you could also put a window style vent in. But the room will still be warm.

  • Scrappykat Scrappykat on Apr 08, 2015

    Thank you everyone for your replies and insight! I should know later today if the primary is going to walk away---I really hope I get the place. I'm thinking of just using lighter colored shingles (do you think white/light silver would look OK though??). The house has steel siding so I think I'm stuck with the light blue color for now :/

  • Mary trevena Mary trevena on Apr 08, 2015

    When we reroofed our house like yours we had 2" insulation with 1/4" plywood glued to it installed on the old 5/8" plywood just on the upper roof. It has saved more than the extra cost in just 4years because we don't even turn our air conditioner and in the winter the furnace doesn't run as often

  • Scrappykat Scrappykat on Apr 08, 2015

    Mart, I'm intrigued :) How much extra did this cost you approximately?

  • Grace Grace on Apr 24, 2015

    I have a cape cod...now that's hot in more ways than one since two of the bedrooms are upstairs. We have central a/c but it still got hot as hells bells upstairs. My husband installed TWO fans in the little bit of attic, one in each window and a grid in the opening that allows access to it. In cool days when you want a breeze, we turn on both fans, open the access door and a couple of windows and it's heaven. In scorching hot days, the trap door is closed and only one fan works (alternately - one day one and the next day the other)...this keeps the heat moving instead of just sitting there.

  • Jamie Jamie on Oct 10, 2016

    We are currently in a new home, with roof ridge vent and soffit vents. Our last home was 150 years old, with gable end vents. This summer when the heat index rose to 105, we did a test. We have 2 access doors on either end of our attic in the gable wall. We opened these and hubby made a temp screen to cover the hole. WOW what a difference. Granted in our old house we had to make an insulted door to cover the vents in the winter, but the difference is amazing. The temp in our attic dropped by 20 degrees. This has to have a major long term effect on our shingle life. New building codes are not always the best. We also noted when we removed some of our soffit vents for another project, this space was covered in spiders and eggs. Apparently the dark ventilated undisturbed area is pure heaven for spiders. I have never before in any home we have lived in, had such an issue with spiders. Insulation in our attic may stop the heat from coming into the house, but it wont stop the spiders. just some food for thought. Good luck

  • Mary trevena Mary trevena on Oct 12, 2016

    It was $2000 extra installed. But well worth it because we seldom use the air conditioning now and it has paid for itself. We didn't put it on the Lorre level because that level has s vaulted ceiling and no attic and is on the north side. Hope this helps. Mary