Photo: Stephen Karlisch
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5. Cooling Roofs

You'll pay: About $2,500 to $3,500 for asphalt shingles, including labor; metal costs about $5,000 to $8,000.

You'll save: Up to 10 to 20 percent on cooling.

Why do it now? In hot climates, a cooling roof, made of reflective material that won’t absorb the sun's heat, can lower indoor temps dramatically, in some cases cutting your need for air-conditioning in half. Metal roofs (which comprise most of the products eligible for the credit) are pricier than most roofing materials but can last up to 50 years. They're also much more fire-resistant than asphalt shingles, something to keep in mind if you live in an area prone to wildfires.

What to look for: The credit is available for Energy Star–rated reflective asphalt and metal roofs but not roof coatings. Qualified asphalt shingles, once available only in white, now come in colors that mimic the tones of wood and slate; manufacturers include ArmorLite and CertainTeed.

Bottom line: A cooling roof is a major investment but a smart one if you live in a hot climate and need a new roof anyhow.
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