Cost: High (greater than $500)
Green Impact: 5 out of 5
A white roof reflects the sun's light and heat, so a couple of coats of paint can reduce your carbon emissions and take about 20 percent off your energy bills.
If every American home (especially those in urban areas) went whitetop, it would have the same impact as taking 300 million cars off the road, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
1. Choose an EPA Energy Star coating and primer from brands such as Bulldog/Durex (from Green Depot) or Henry Solarflex (at some Home Depot stores). Opt for an acrylic or an elastomer instead of toxic PVC.
2. Given the challenges of working at heights with unfamiliar equipment, it's best to find a contractor who specializes in solar reflective roof coatings. Find one through the paint manufacturer or your nearest home improvement center.
3. Clean the roof by rinsing with a hose or power washer. When it's dry, apply a coat of primer and two coats of the white roof paint with a long-handled roller, allowing the layers to dry after each application.
How We Did It
Whole Living editor-in-chief Alex Postman painted her brownstone's roof with Bulldog/Durex protective coating and professional guidance from Eco Brooklyn Inc.