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Attic & Roof

The roof and attic offer many opportunities for greening your home, whether you are replacing or repairing a new roof, want to keep your home cooler, or are just looking to save money on utility bills. Below, we discuss changes you can make to your roof and attic to improve your home's environmental performance and save money on energy.


Roof Insulation

Roof insulation plays an important role in reducing the amount of energy you consume for heating and cooling, and in turn reduces your energy bills. Insulation is measured by an R-value - the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating capacity of the material. Colder climates require higher R-value insulation to ensure that less heat is lost through the roof of your home. In addition, insulation will also help keep the cool air inside during the warm weather. Roof insulation can typically be added relatively easily when you are building a new home or replacing the roof on your existing home.

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Solar Electricity

Photovoltaic solar panels

Photovoltaic solar panels that generate electricity can supplement a home with a renewable source of electricity.

Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels use available sunlight to generate electricity. Often installed on the roof, PV systems can be used to reduce a home's use of electricity purchased from a utility. A growing market for solar PV, combined with federal and state support, has reduced the high up-front capital costs of PV systems. Before you buy a PV system, you'll want to be sure your site has enough solar energy to meet your electricity needs efficiently and economically. Your local system supplier can perform a solar site analysis for you or show you how to do so on your own.

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http://www.dsireusa.org/index.cfm?&CurrentPageID=7Exit EPA Disclaimer

Solar Hot Water Heaters

Solar hot water heaters use available (and free!) sunshine to heat water for uses throughout the home. Solar hot water heaters are generally designed for use with an electric or gas back-up water heater. By installing a solar hot water heater, you may be eligible for a Federal tax credit (All ENERGY STARę solar water heaters qualify). ENERGY STARę qualified solar water heaters can cut your water heating bills in half and reduce your carbon footprint.

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Cool Your Roof

Over 90 percent of roofs in the United States are dark-colored. These low-reflectance surfaces reach temperatures of 150 to 190░F (66 to 88░C) during hot weather and contribute to increased cooling energy use and higher utility bills. In contrast, lighter-colored "cool roofs" with high reflectance and emissivity can stay up to 70░ (39░C) cooler than traditional materials during peak summer weather. Cool roofs can also save you money on air conditioning expenditures. Consider purchasing an ENERGY STARę qualified roof to decrease the heat transferred into your home.

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Recycled Roofing Materials

Depending on the roofing system selected, you may be able to use roofing materials that contain recycled content. Ask your contractor to identify recycled content materials that may be appropriate for your roof, climate, and home type.

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"Green" Roofs

A green roof, or rooftop garden, is a vegetative layer grown on a rooftop. Green roofs provide shade and remove heat from the air through evapotranspiration, reducing temperatures of the roof surface and the surrounding air. Green roofs absorb heat and act as insulators for buildings, reducing energy needed to provide cooling and heating. In addition, green roofs can reduce and slow stormwater runoff in the urban environment; they also filter pollutants from rainfall.

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Insulation and Air Sealing

Homes with HVAC systems

Insulating your attic can help reduce your utility bills during the warm and cold months.

Since they are typically accessible from within the home, attics can be one of the easiest places in your home to insulate, which can save you money on your energy bills. Be sure to consider insulation with the proper R-value appropriate for your home's climate. Furthermore, check the insulation and air sealing around the access to your attic- especially to if your attic is unfinished. A home's attic access, which could be an attic hatch, pull-down stairs, or a knee-wall door, often, goes uninsulated. This gap in the attic insulation increases heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. A 1/4-inch gap around the perimeter of an attic access can potentially leak the same amount of air supplied by a typical bedroom heating duct. By air sealing attic access, you can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs.

For more information on insulating your attic, go to:

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Radiant Barrier

Radiant barrier, also called reflective insulation, is type of attic insulation that can help improve the comfort of your home while helping to reduce your energy bills. Exit EPA Disclaimer Radiant barriers perform a function that is similar to that of conventional insulation, however they differ in the way they reduce the heat flow into your house. On a sunny summer day, solar energy is absorbed by the roof, and heat is radiated downward toward the attic floor. When a radiant barrier is placed on the attic floor, much of the heat radiated from the hot roof is reflected back toward the roof, thereby reducing the amount of heat that moves through the insulation into the rooms below the ceiling. Reflective insulation is most effective at reducing cooling bills in hot, sunny climates. However, in some cases the product can help reduce heating bills as well.

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Whole House Fan/Ventilation

Whole house fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air out of the house. Typically, these very large fans are installed by professionals in the attic of the home. They are most effective when operated at night and when the air outside air is cooler than inside. However, allowing them to continue to run when the outdoor temperatures are hotter than indoors defeats the purpose and will waste energy. You should consider humidity, pollen, dust, and other factors when deciding whether whole house fans are right for your home.

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Link to Whole House for information on windows and doors, heating and cooling, air sealing, insulation, hot water heating, and lighting.

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