What color roof keeps a house the coolest?

When it comes to keeping your house cool, the color of your roof plays a significant role. The roof’s color can impact the temperature inside your home, energy efficiency, and overall comfort levels. This article explores the science behind roof colors, how they affect heat absorption, and the best color choices for keeping your house cool.

The Science Behind Roof Colors and Heat Absorption

How Colors Absorb and Reflect Heat

The color of a roof can determine how much heat it absorbs or reflects. This is due to a property known as albedo, which is the measure of a surface’s reflectivity. Surfaces with high albedo reflect most of the sunlight, while those with low albedo absorb more heat.

  • Light Colors: Light-colored roofs, such as white, light gray, or pastel shades, have a high albedo. They reflect a significant portion of sunlight, keeping the roof and the house cooler.
  • Dark Colors: Dark-colored roofs, such as black, dark gray, or dark brown, have a low albedo. They absorb more heat, making the roof and the house warmer.

The Role of Roofing Materials

The material of the roof also affects how it absorbs and reflects heat. Some materials are better at reflecting heat regardless of their color.

  • Metal Roofs: Metal roofs can be very effective at reflecting sunlight, especially if they have a reflective coating. They can stay cooler even if they are darker in color.
  • Tile Roofs: Clay and concrete tiles can also be effective at reflecting heat, particularly when they are light-colored.
  • Asphalt Shingles: These are common but typically less reflective than metal or tile roofs. However, newer versions with reflective granules can improve their performance.

Best Roof Colors for Keeping Your House Cool

White Roofs

White is the most effective color for reflecting sunlight and keeping your house cool. White roofs have the highest albedo, reflecting up to 90% of the sunlight.

  • Energy Savings: Homes with white roofs often experience lower cooling costs in the summer.
  • Comfort: White roofs help maintain a cooler indoor temperature, enhancing comfort without over-relying on air conditioning.

Light Gray Roofs

Light gray roofs are another excellent choice for reflecting heat. They are slightly less reflective than white roofs but still provide significant cooling benefits.

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Light gray can blend well with various home styles and colors.
  • Cooling Effect: They can keep your home cool while offering a more subdued appearance compared to white roofs.

Beige and Light Tan Roofs

Beige and light tan roofs offer a good balance between aesthetics and functionality. They reflect a substantial amount of sunlight and can complement a variety of architectural styles.

  • Versatility: These colors work well with both modern and traditional home designs.
  • Temperature Control: They help in maintaining a cooler home environment, similar to light gray roofs.

Light Green and Blue Roofs

Light green and blue roofs are becoming increasingly popular for their cooling properties and unique look. These colors can be reflective and add a distinctive touch to your home’s exterior.

  • Unique Style: Light green and blue roofs provide a unique aesthetic while still offering cooling benefits.
  • Reflectivity: These colors reflect a significant amount of sunlight, helping to keep your home cool.

Additional Factors to Consider


Your local climate should influence your choice of roof color. In hot and sunny climates, light-colored roofs are essential for keeping homes cool. In contrast, if you live in a colder climate, a darker roof might be beneficial for absorbing heat and reducing heating costs in the winter.

Roofing Material

As mentioned earlier, the type of roofing material also plays a crucial role in heat absorption and reflection. Opt for materials with high reflectivity and consider coatings that enhance this property.

Energy Efficiency Ratings

Look for roofing materials with high energy efficiency ratings. Many products are now rated based on their ability to reflect sunlight and reduce heat absorption. Products with the ENERGY STAR® label are designed to provide better energy efficiency.

Roof Coatings

Reflective roof coatings can significantly improve the performance of your existing roof. These coatings can be applied to many types of roofing materials and colors, enhancing their ability to reflect sunlight and keep your home cooler.

Solar Reflectance Index (SRI)

The Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) measures a roof’s ability to reject solar heat. It combines reflectivity and emissivity (the ability to release absorbed heat). A higher SRI indicates better performance in keeping a roof cool. When choosing roofing materials and colors, consider those with a high SRI.

Benefits of Cool Roofs

Reduced Energy Costs

Cool roofs can lower your energy bills by reducing the need for air conditioning. This can be particularly beneficial in hot climates where cooling costs are a significant part of household expenses.

Increased Comfort

A cool roof helps maintain a more stable indoor temperature, reducing the heat load on your air conditioning system. This results in a more comfortable living environment, especially during the hot summer months.

Extended Roof Lifespan

High temperatures can shorten the lifespan of roofing materials by causing thermal expansion and contraction. Cool roofs experience less thermal stress, which can extend the life of your roof and reduce maintenance costs.

Environmental Benefits

Cool roofs contribute to environmental sustainability by lowering energy consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They also help mitigate the urban heat island effect, where urban areas become significantly warmer than their rural surroundings.

Improved Air Quality

By reducing the demand for electricity, cool roofs help decrease the amount of pollutants and greenhouse gases produced by power plants. This can lead to improved air quality and a healthier environment.

Practical Tips for Implementing a Cool Roof

Choosing the Right Color

When selecting a roof color, prioritize lighter shades like white, light gray, beige, and light green or blue. These colors are more effective at reflecting sunlight and keeping your home cool.

Considering Reflective Coatings

If you prefer a darker roof color for aesthetic reasons, consider applying a reflective coating. These coatings can significantly improve the reflectivity of darker roofs, combining style with functionality.

Consulting Professionals

Work with roofing professionals to choose the best materials and colors for your climate and home design. Professionals can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on your specific needs and conditions.


Regular maintenance is essential to ensure your cool roof performs effectively. Keep the roof clean, and check for any damage or wear that could affect its reflective properties. Promptly address any issues to maintain optimal performance.

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