How Relevant is the Energy Star® Standard for Residential Roofing?
What Exactly is Energy Star®?
Energy Star® is a U.S.-government program responsible for promoting energy saving. Launched by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1992 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the program also exists in Canada, Australia, and the European Union. The Energy Star® label is displayed on products that meet the program standards. The certification assesses various products, such as appliances, electronics and, more recently, insulating and roofing systems.
The relevance of Energy Star®-certified asphalt shingles
Great in arid or tropical climates
It is particularly obvious that Energy Star® criteria were set in the U.S. when it comes to asphalt shingles. With temperatures climbing well over 37.5°C (100°F) in many states, Energy Star® criteria were fit for the dry and hot weather found in the western, southern, and central United States. As a result, Energy Star® recognizes roofing with high reflectivity, which helps lower attic temperatures and keep houses cool in summer. If you were shopping for a new roof for your California home, for instance, an Energy Star®-certified roof would be worth considering, as it could potentially lower your energy bill by reducing your need for air conditioning.
Not so great in wet, cold or temperate climates
In Canada and the northern states, however, Energy Star® criteria can be downright counterproductive. Indeed, solar reflectivity—the main criterion for roofing ratings—is counter to needs in cold regions.
In wet, cold, or temperate areas, the most important (and cost effective!) features in a roof are attic airtightness, insulation levels, and conduit insulation. These are factors that the Energy Star® rating does not take into consideration.
According to many industry experts, solar reflective shingles are much less energy efficient in many climates and homes. Those experts argue that roofing shingles specifically designed for colder climates (with an adapted asphalt formula, for example) are better suited for Canadian weather than Energy Star®certified shingles. They go on to say that such shingles are also likely to offer benefits in the summertime for this type of climate. The EPA has even put forth a proposal to put an end to the Energy Star® program for roof products. Click here to view a copy of this proposal on the official Energy Star® website.