The roof over your head could save you and your family thousands of dollars as you help the climate out!!!! No, I'm not talking about anything fancy, like solar panels or new roofing. Our nobel prize-winning secretary of energy, Steven Chu, says that saving lots of energy can be as simple as painting your roof a lighter color.
That's right, by painting your home roof white - or a lighter color - you can slash your family's energy costs, which saves your family money and also reduces the amount of energy you need from dirty fossil fuels. There have been numerous studies on the impacts of light-colored roofs, here is just a snapshot of their findings:
As quick climate change fixes go, whitening roofs is the proverbial low-hanging fruit. Lighter-colored roofs not only reduce air-conditioning bills for buildings and lessen the “heat island” effect, when the air in cities is hotter than the land around it because of a high concentration of dark, heat-absorbent surfaces (like city streets and parking lots - just think about NYC in the summer!). From the NY Times.
Also, a study by Lawrence Berkeley National Lab's Heat Island Group found that painting 80% of air conditioned buildings in the US with white roofs would save $735 million each year in reduced energy bills while saving the same amount of carbon dioxide as removing 1.2 million cars off the road! Holy cow.
And, in one last study by the same group, they found that increasing the reflectivity of roofs in urban areas with populations more than 1 million people (by painting them lighter colors that reflect incoming solar radiation + heat) would offset the heating effect of 1.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide emission annually. That's the equivalent of taking 300 million cars off the road for 20 years.
Steven Chu knows this data well - and he's trying to start a movement. When Chu was on the Daily Show last year, he asked us to do the following: “When you’re thinking of putting on a new roof, make it white. It costs no more to make it white than to make it black.”
And finally, it looks like he's doing more than just talking! This past Monday, Dr. Chu directed all Energy Department offices to install white roofs during new construction, when replacing old roofs and wherever an installation is cost-effective over the lifetime of the roof.
He further urged other government agencies to get on board: “Cool roofs are one of the quickest and lowest-cost ways we can reduce our global carbon emissions and begin the hard work of slowing climate change."
Anyone out there have a white roof? Or, want to take this on?! Could be a great Action Team project...