How Your Roof Keeps Your Home Warm in Winter

How Your Roof Keeps Your Home Warm in Winter

There are many ways your roof can help insulate your house during the cold months
Read Time: 3 minutes
Dec 19, 2022

When the temperatures drop, we want our houses to keep us as warm and comfortable as possible. While you might naturally think of elements like your HVAC system and your windows as key players in keeping your house warm, there’s another very important factor: your roof.

Your roof is your house’s main line of defense from the cold, rain, snow, and winds. Let’s explore how your roof keeps your house warm, and what to do about it if it’s not doing its job accordingly.

Your Roof Protects You From the Outside

A residential roof with a snowdrift on top, taken from underneath the roof line.

Much like a lid on a pot, your roof keeps your house sealed tight. When built and installed properly, a roof can help seal the temperature in your house off from the outside world so that you don’t lose heat in the winter and cool temperatures in the summer. It’s also your barrier from rain, hail, snow, and wind. But not every roof is made equally. There are several factors that affect how useful your roof is in the winter months.

Roofing Materials

There are several different kinds of roofs available, each with its own unique properties. Some roofing materials might reflect heat away from your home, while others help absorb it. Depending on where you live and your preferences, one material might be more helpful than another. Here are some of the most popular roofing materials.

Asphalt Shingles

A close-up of a roof with gray shingles and two white dormers.

Asphalt shingle roofing typically does not reflect a lot of heat and light, but rather absorbs it. Typically, an asphalt shingle roof will only reflect about 30% of the heat. This can be helpful in the winter months when you want your house to be as warm as possible. However, this can prove detrimental in the hotter months.

Metal Roofing

The top part of a brown house with a green metal roof under a cloudy sky.

Metal roofs, on the other hand, typically reflect light and heat from the sun, which helps your home stay cooler. They’re typically more helpful in the summertime. However, when installed properly, metal roofs have been known to regulate temperatures in houses effectively year-round. Additionally, because they are so smooth, ice and snow typically fall off quickly, preventing icicles from forming.

Slate Tiles

A roof with gray/black slate tiles underneath a blue sky.

Slate tile roofs are very durable, making them a great choice for climates with harsh winters and heavy snowfall. Additionally, slate tile roofs can be very helpful in insulating houses due to the thick nature of the slate. They also last a very long time: up to 100 years when properly installed and maintained!

Your Roof’s Color

Similar to how your roof’s material can affect how well it reflects or absorbs heat, your roof’s color can also make a big difference. Typically, darker-colored roofs will absorb more heat while lighter color roofs will reflect more heat. Darker roofs can also be better at melting snow off of them for the same reason. If you live in a cold climate and want your house to absorb as much heat as possible, a darker-colored roof is probably the way to go.


A man in a hard hat installs insulation into the roof of a home.

The material and color of your actual roof aren’t the only things that will affect how they maintain heat. You also should consider the insulation that goes underneath your roof. Proper insulation can help your house maintain its temperature regardless of the kind of roof you have. Each roofing type will have a different process for insulation, so be sure to talk with your contractor if you are not sure your roof has been insulated properly.


Proper roof ventilation also helps maintain your home’s temperature, as well as lengthening the lifespan of your roof. If your roof isn’t properly ventilated, the heat and moisture that accumulate in your house and rise to the top of the house become trapped just below the roof. Moisture can then build up and weaken your roof’s insulation or contribute to wood rot and mold. Properly ventilated roofs use exhaust and intake vents in the attic.

Signs of improperly ventilated roofs include:

  • Icicles on roofline
  • Warped shingles
  • Ice buildup on the roof
  • High energy/heating bills
  • Increase in allergies or respiratory illness

Quality and Imperfections

A man repairs a leaking roof with a crowbar.

Your roof won’t do a great job of insulating your house if it’s old, falling apart, or otherwise faulty. For example, holes or leaking in your roof could mean that you are susceptible to more cold and precipitation coming in your house. Because your roof is your first line of defense, it’s important to repair it or replace it if you feel it’s not measuring up. Make sure to regularly inspect your roof for flaws.

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