Cool Roof $1500 Tax Credit Scam

Update: As of Jan. 1, 2011 the tax credit for cool roof installation has been reduced from “up-to $1500”, to a maximum of $500 or 30% of total cost of cool roofing materials (whichever is smaller). I believe this is because we ran out of bailout money, and because, too much money goes for Oil Companies subsidies.

Original Cool Roof Tax Credit “Scam” Article

Do you have a cool roof such as a PVC or TPO white membrane, or a metal roof, not rated as “cool” by Energy Star?

Tough luck – you will not be getting that $1500 promised to you by Obama’s Economic Recovery Act, and here is why:

The energy-efficiency tax credit, so widely advertised by the government and roof manufacturers, turned out to be a scam for those homeowners who installed a truly “COOL ROOF” such as a white PVC or TPO roof, White Roof Coating, or even a Spray-Foam Roofing system. It reminds me of a Bush-like patronage of the Big-Oil in terms of support, which this Energy Efficiency Tax Credit Bill provides for Asphalt Shingles manufacturers, while cool roofing manufacturers and roof owners get screwed.

In the end, the tax credit applies only to Metal Roofing systems (which are cool as it is, even when you do not consider a cool-roof paint, such as Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000, and similar coatings), and – you got it – “cool” asphalt shingles, as well as other bitumen-based roofing systems, which are considered “cool” by Energy Star and EPA.

Really – asphalt shingles??? Asphalt shingles would be the least energy efficient sloped roofing system. They store solar heat, and transfer it into your house even after the sun goes down. An average color (not black) asphalt shingle roof goes up-to 165-170 F degrees on a 95 F degree day, and remains hot almost into the next morning.

The asphalt shingles manufacturers such as GAF, Tamko, Certain Teed and others, created a gimmick in the form of Cool Roof shingles. OK – these shingles are lighter in color, and the granular surface is coated with reflective materials, but they still will be much hotter than any metal roof without Cool Roof paint / coating. And they cost a lot more than regular shingles – over $2500 extra on an average 20 squares new asphalt shingles roof. The roof prices for such “cool asphalt roofs” are very close to a metal roof, such as Interlocking Steel shingles. Also, assuming a lifespan of average asphalt roof to be about 15-20 years, vs. a metal one of over 50 years, it looks like a very bad deal for the homeowner. Keep in mind that both metal and a cool asphalt shingles roof would qualify for the cool roof tax credit of up-to $1500.

Owners of true Cool Roofs are getting screwed to benefit the oil industry.

The most ironic fact in this story, is that this so called “energy efficiency tax credit” supports big roofing manufacturers, who use petroleum-based products to produce these supposedly cool roofs. And these “cool asphalt roofs” will end up in a landfill in 15-20 years, making our nation “even greener” than it already is. This reminds me of G.W. Bush era, when the US was getting greener, but somehow big oil was getting more and more support from the government, while green energy and green building companies were struggling and there were minimal subsidies (if any) for any green or solar projects.

While the uncool asphalt shingles roofs do qualify for the energy tax credit, the truly cool roofs are out of luck. Consider these facts:

A white PVC (and TPO) membrane such as IB Flat Roof, reflects over 95% of solar heat. On a 95 F degree day, this white PVC roof will barely reach 100 F degrees. You can put your bare knees on it, and it won’t burn your skin. Try doing that on a black surface roof such as EPDM Rubber. You will jump up almost immediately, as your skin will start to “burn” when in contact with a 170 F degrees surface. Try to be in a room under such a black rubber roof. Unless you crank your AC to maximum power, you will be sweating, as if you were in a sauna.

There are some Metal Roofs, which do not have a cool roof coating, or are made from unpainted metals – so called mill finish metals. These metal roofs are still very energy efficient, even though they do not have a “Cool Roof” label. These roofs will be in fact much cooler than the “coolest” asphalt shingle roofs, or a “cool” modified bitumen roof, but its not cool enough to get you $1500 tax credit.

If you have a black roof (e.g. a rubber, tar or a bitumen roof), and decided to either be “green”, or reduce your HVAC operation costs, or both, and hired a contractor specializing in spray-roof coatings to install this liquid-applied white roof. Well, you too are out of luck…

So it does not matter if you have an “actually cool” roof on your home or business – you will not be getting your Energy Efficiency Tax Credit, if you have any of the above mentioned material types. Keep in mind that Energy Star actually recognizes white (and some other colors) PVC and TPO systems, as well as spray-roof coatings as Cool Roofs. They just did not include these materials into the Cool Roof Tax Credit program.

It is unfortunate and a shame that real cool roofs and homeowners, who invest in these premium priced systems get screwed, while imitation products like “cool” asphalt shingles qualify for this $1500 tax credit.

Reference information: Energy Star Roofing Systems, qualifying for Cool Roof Tax Credit – note: the old link to Energy Star site no longer works, so we replaced it with a link to Cool Roofing Council, where you can find a list of qualifying “cool roofs”.

Calculate roofing costs and annual cool roof energy savings using Roofing Price Calculator.

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6 thoughts on “Cool Roof $1500 Tax Credit Scam

  1. Pingback: How green are asphalt shingles?

  2. fmblum

    Does a galvalume roof qualify for the tax credit? I noticed that the galvalume is rated high for ” reflectivity” , it is rated very low for ” emmissivity”. Can anyone tell me the significance of ” emmissivity”?

    1. Leo - roofer with a vision Post author


      galvalume is a “method” galvanization of steel, but most today’s metal roof panels have cool roof paint, and will qualify for cool roof tax credit.

      and even if it does not qualify on technicality (such as – manufacturer did not go through cool roof certification for “this” particular color) you can still file it and I don’t see how feds would not approve you of $500 tax credit – your roof is still COOL…

  3. Dexter Thompson

    That’s how the government works for you. Seriously, these so called politicians will always put their interests first. Remember they do own businesses and have favors from their sponsors.

  4. Roofer with a vision Post author

    Chris, I totally agree with you. What’s worst – GOV promoted this cool roof tax credit to include ALL cool roofs. Instead, they exclude the truly cool white roofing membranes and approve ASPHALT SHINGLES for the cool roof tax credit – really???

    I’m just mad… and imagine explaining this to your customer, when the tax time comes: Oh, btw – government screwed you…

  5. Chris

    As a roofing contractor I hate seeing things like this. Scams like these hurt the industry a bit because people who were willing to have their roofs replaced because of the tax credit are now less willing.