Economical Roofing, energy efficient roof

Most Economical Roofing Solutions

Most Economical Roofing Solutions

There are a lot of different roofing options these days but one of the more popular is an energy efficient roof. Whether you’re choosing a roof for a newly constructed home or looking to replace your old roof with more energy efficient roofing materials, we’ll help you make decisions so you can cut your home energy consumption. You will need to weigh your options and consider a variety of factors. Not only does being more energy efficient help the environment as a whole, but it also can help you save money each month as nobody likes to spend more money then necessary on heat.

What Makes a Roof Energy Efficient?

Before you do anything, you need to find out what makes a roof more energy efficient than another. For a roof to be energy efficient, it needs to do a good job of keeping your home’s warm. When a roof’s insulation isn’t good, the heat will escape into the air causing energy to be lost and your heating bill to soar. As warm air rises, it’s the job of the roof to trap the warm air into the house. The type of material that your roof is made out of will be a large factor of how energy efficient your home will be.

Wooden Shingles

Shake shingles are made of wood and are very durable and can withstand strong winds and storms making them a good choice. They are very energy efficient as they allow better air circulation. They are also popular because they fit well in Vancouver’s west coast style.
The downside to wooden shingles is that there is more maintenance than asphalt. Rot and mold can create problems in shake shingles, especially in Vancouver’s climate.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are very popular in Vancouver because they are low maintenance and are relatively energy efficient roof. While Vancouver only has one bad storm every two years, homeowners need to keep in mind that asphalt shingles tend to become more easily damaged.

Metal Roofs

Metal roofs are rare in Vancouver and are generally recommended for homes in warm weathered regions like California. They are sturdy, light, and last on average fifty years without any major repair. They are made from materials like copper, steel, or aluminum. And they are thin enough that they do not absorb and retain heat from the sun which can be problematic in cold damp climates like Vancouver.

Tile Roofs

Tile roofs are great at regulating temperature, efficiently trapping heat during winter months and keep your home cool during summer days. Clay tiles are generally recommended for warmer climates because they can’t withstand hail and snow. However, in Vancouver you can get sturdier concrete tiles which are better suited for the city’s climate.
Unless tile roofs are damaged from an external force, tiles are extremely durable and long-lasting. A lot of century old houses in Europe have the same roof they had when first constructed. The roof’s underlayment however, needs some maintenance and periodic replacement. Especially if you want to keep your home insulated from the cold.

Concrete Roofing

While still rare in Vancouver, concrete is becoming a favourite roofing material option in areas that have colder climates. Concrete cement is mixed with fiber reinforcement for durability to withstand snow accumulation. And weight pressure making concrete a good choice for the most energy efficient roofing option. Concrete tiles are coated with plastic for durability and better heat trapping efficiency. The downside to concrete is that they are often the most expensive, but their durability and energy efficiency can pay for themselves.

Sprayed-On Foam Coating

Another option that doesn’t involve replacing your roof while still improving energy efficiency of your house is to coat your existing roof with polyurethane foam. Polyurethane foam is mostly used in car seats, furniture and chairs but more recently is being used for other applications. Unfortunately, the spray foam works best on flat or low sloped roofs which are unusual in residential homes in Vancouver. However many commercial buildings use a polyurethane coating to help lower energy consumption.
An added benefit to polyurethane foam is that it blocks ultra violet rays of the sun. Adding a coat to your existing roof will not cost as much as replacing it with a more energy efficient roof. It is also lightweight, and as a result not a significant burden to your existing underlayment. Polyurethane foam spray should only be applied by professional roof contractors. Roofs need to be recoated between five to ten years.

Garden Roofs

An easy way to help insulate your roof and trap the warmth is to build a garden or cover your roof with plants. This can significantly lower your home cooling and heating energy expense. The plants will absorb most of the heat during summer, and it will give your home an additional layer of insulation to trap the heat during winter.
However the downside to using plants for insulation is that they are a lot of work and can be expensive. It is really only recommended for those who love to garden. You will need a structural engineer to assess the feasibility of a rooftop garden.  He or she will tell you if the roof’s foundation would be able to support your garden. Then a drainage system has to be installed for proper irrigation. Lastly you will also need to water and take care of your garden. But the energy saving and the fresh produce you can enjoy might compensate for the effort and initial expense.


With new innovations always on the horizon and improvements regularly made to existing energy efficient roof options. Homeowners should always research their options when replacing a roof or building a new structure. Carefully consider your needs and look for economical roofing materials. By understanding what energy efficient roofing materials available and how they absorb heat, you can make a positive impact on the environment and save money in the process. If you have any questions about materials or the environmental impact of roofing materials give us a call at Cambie Roofing and we’ll be happy to help you.

Originally published May 2019. Updated and republished Jan. 2024

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