Paint It White

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In one of my favorite songs, Mick Jagger sings, “I see a red door and I want to paint it black.”  Sorry, Mick, but you were wrong on this one. Well, maybe it’s okay to paint your doors black, but you should never do that to your roof. Instead, paint your roof white. It’s a quick and easy way to save money and help our beloved planet.

In the winter, try this experiment. Take a piece of black construction paper and white construction paper. Place them next to each other on top of the snow in a relatively sunny spot.  In a couple hours you will notice that the black paper has sunk into the snow deeper than the white one. Why? Black absorbs heat from the sun while white reflects more.  

In regards to roofs, many older houses, particularly in poorer neighborhoods, have black tar-paper roofs. Those roofs tend to absorb a lot of heat which gives the people living inside two choices: crank up the A/C - which costs a lot of money - or suffer with open windows and a couple fans - which can turn the home into a convection oven. People can thus live more comfortably and save money with a minimal cost. Another advantage is that, with less A/C being used, there is less need for power needed to be generated. This should also reduce to some extent the pollution and global warming gasses being produced. 

What about the winter, you may ask (Go ahead, ask). Interestingly, white roofs also help out during the colder times. Since the white roofs are a bit colder than black ones, snow tends to stay on them longer. Snow is a great natural insulator. With more insulation, less heat is needed to keep the home warm. Less heat means less power means less money needed means less pollution and carbon in the atmosphere from generating power.

Is replacing dark roofs with lighter ones a cure-all? Of course not. However, it is a small cost-effective step that will help. Once again, to quote Mr. Jagger:

“You can’t always get what you want, but you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”