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Why white is right when it comes to roofing

Stand on a suburban hilltop and the surrounding landscape is likely to be one of red, brown and black roofs stretching as far as the eye can see. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – unless you have a hankering to live in a cool house with lower power bills.

White and light is what’s right when it comes to choosing external colour schemes for the 21st century Australian house. We all learned in junior high school science that dark colours absorb heat, while light colours reflect it. Yet when it comes to choosing exterior colour schemes for our homes, we either forget these simple facts or become so wrapped up in the excitement of comparing swatches that we put style before substance.

But with climate change, not to mention the need to conserve energy increasingly on our minds, projects to promote the white and light roofs and walls are springing up around the world. Paint and roofing manufacturers are also taking this into account when developing new products.




NT’s White Roofs project

Townsville City Council is leading the way with its White Roofs Townsville Project, which encourages North East Queenslanders to lighten the roofs of their homes. The Project has tested the concept by monitoring the temperatures of several identical miniature houses with different coloured roofs.

It found that on the same day, a home with a black roof could heat up to as much as 60°C, while the home next to it with a white roof would only be slightly hotter than surrounding air – often as much as 30°C less.

It also found that white paint could reflect as much as 80 to 98 per cent of the sun’s heat away compared to red or green paint, which reflected about 45 per cent, galvanised steel (about 35 per cent), or dark paint (five to 10 per cent).

Coupled this with white walls, and you’ve got a winning combination for an energy efficient house.

But white is a cool colour scheme in more than a temperature control sense – it’s a classic that, far from being bland, adds an air of chic sophistication to any home, regardless of design.

In fact, according to Architectural Digest in the U.S.: “The recent trend toward simplicity in decor can be summed up in a single color: white.” Not to be outdone, a study by the South Australian Government in 2010 found that white roofs reduced cooling costs and greenhouse gas emissions.




Top image courtesy of Inhabitat

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Phyllis Stylianou

Phyllis Stylianou is a journalist with 35 years’ experience as a reporter, sub-editor and editor. Writing is the great love of her life (after her family) – as is renovating old homes and building new ones (which she’s embarking on again!) So writing about everything to do with building, renovating and gardening is her passion.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Homeloans Ltd.