Everybody knows the roof is critical for keeping a house dry during inclement weather. Unfortunately, this is often the only consideration in people’s minds when they choose new roofing materials. The roof on your house actually does far more than keep you dry. The right roof also plays a very important role in keeping your house warm in winter and cool in summer. 
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Spring is a popular time for roof replacements. The storms of winter are over, but the damaging spring storms are causing havoc. The early spring of 2009 has already started with some very big winds. Tornados have caused a lot of damage throughout the southern part of the country and more storms will certainly follow. 
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This year, homeowners who need to replace a roof will find that they have more options to get the best roof for less money because of the commitment of the new administration to support efforts to save the environment. The “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” offers homeowners federal income tax credits if they choose qualifying roofing materials. The offer is for a tax credit of 30% of the cost of the new roofing materials (installation is not included) up to a maximum in a year of $1,500. 
 
Choosing the material for a new roof is somewhat more complex than it was ten or fifteen years ago. There are more options today, and the options have more bearing on the energy efficiency of your home. Roofing materials are frequently chosen based on the architectural style of a home or on the regional popularity of certain materials. To some extent, this is changing. For example, tile is being used on homes outside of the American southwest. The varieties within various materials are also much greater. For example, choosing a metal roof today doesn’t necessarily mean the only option is tin (although tin is still an affordable, if noisy, option). 
 
After reading about the tax credits outlined in the Recovery Act, it is important to review the types of roofing materials that qualify for the tax credits, and then to review the colors, styles, and costs of the hundreds of qualifying materials. Within each of the four major roofing materials categories, there is enough variety to meet the needs of any homeowner. The four major types of qualifying roofing materials are:
  1. Coatings – these are insulating and highly reflective coatings for flat roofs.
  2. Metal – new metal roofing is foam insulated, and available in styles that look like many other materials, including tile, shakes, etc.
  3. Asphalt Shingles – you will need to choose the newer, longer-lasting and more efficient designs
  4. Tile – Tiles are being made in a huge variety of styles and colors with insulating qualities.
 
As you review the list of qualifying materials, look carefully at and compare the warranty offered on the different materials and choose options that have the best heat reflective ratings. If you live in a northern state and have a steeply-pitched roof (to help snow melt off), you might decide you want the insulating value offered by a metal roof, that you want a metal roof that looks like cedar shakes, and that you like the 30-60 year or a lifetime warranty on the roof. A cost comparison would indicate that replacing the roof with lower-rated asphalt shingles would probably cost $4,500 plus about $600 to tear off the old shingles. The metal roof would cost $14,000 plus $600 to remove the old shingles. But the cost of installing cedar shakes would be about the same as the cost of the metal roof.  
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Once you make the decision to install a new insulated metal roof, what can you expect? 
  • You can claim a federal income tax for $1,500 (slightly more than ten percent of the total cost of the roof).
  • You might qualify for a rebate or tax break from your State government.
  • You might qualify for a rebate from your utility company
  • Your heating and cooling costs will probably decrease by 20-30%
  • The new roof will probably increase the value of your home by $10,000
  • You save the cost of roof maintenance and repair every year
  • You won’t have to worry about water leaks or damage and the cost of repairs
  • You might be able to finance the cost of your new roof at very low interest through a special energy-efficiency loan
  • You will save about $13,500 over the next 36 years because you will not have to pay for two roof replacements (based on the cost of asphalt shingles).  
In short, choosing a new metal roof will earn you tax credits and more, will make your home more comfortable and less expensive to heat and cool, as well as less expensive to maintain for as long as you own your home, and you will be making a positive step toward conservation of the earth.
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