With summer coming and temperatures rising quickly, many people are already turning the air conditioner on. But did you know that what's atop your home may or may not be helping you stay cool?

"Clay and concrete tiles have been around for thousands of years. They are the original green product. They are recycled material. They come from the earth -- clay and concrete mines that come from the ground. They have a reflectivity quotient that's above and beyond any other roofing product that's on the market," says Dave Mann, President of Patriot Roofing.

Roofing tiles are the only materials that possess two inherent qualities necessary for energy reduction; not only do they contain natural thermal resistance in the raw materials but also the installation of the individual tiles creates a natural airspace around the tiles allowing for ventilation that helps cool air to circulate through the roof. Mann says this can greatly reduce the amount of heat going in and out of a home, resulting in less air conditioner usage and lower electrical bills.

Despite the cost-savings, Mann says currently only eight percent of the US residential market uses concrete and clay roof tiles but the market is rapidly warming up to these products for many reasons.

"The rising cost of oil and with asphalt shingles becoming more expensive the price points are equaling out now," says Mann. He adds, "This is the best product that's on the market. It lasts the longest. It's the most efficient and it truly is green."

Replacing a roof is of course a major project that many homeowners put off. But Mann says changing your roof can help curb energy costs and you don't have to fear that using concrete and clay will be unattractive.

"That's the big misnomer in tile that it's red, round, and heavy. It comes in flat products. It comes in a multitude of colors -- blues, greens, browns, and blacks. You can get a concrete and clay roof tile in round and flat and any color that you want. It's in fact very versatile," says Mann.

The Tile Roofing Institute (TRI) has just launched its "Go Green with Tile" green-building campaign in an effort to help consumers understand the advantages. The purpose of the campaign is to educate homeowners and architects about the environmental "green" benefits of concrete and clay tile roofs. It also helps homeowners learn about the many green benefits including life-cycle cost, recycling, reflectivity, and sustainability.

"Roofing tiles on average are going to come with a 50-year warranty. Solar products on average are going to come with a 25-year warranty and any reputable roofing contractor is going to give you a minimum of half of the life of both products as far as labor goes," says Mann.

Mann says these warranties are far superior to the 20-year limited warranties offered by more traditional asphalt-based shingle roofing products. He also points out that a tile roof will not clog your landfill once its useful life has been exhausted.

Another green-energy saving effort that's making its way to roof tops is the integration of solar usage and tiles.

"They're more affordable now and they're making solar roof tiles that actually integrate with the actual tiles themselves so it's not as ugly. It's a lot more aesthetically pleasing. It's walkable. It's serviceable and a roofer can install it versus having two different contractors, both a roofer and a solar installer -- you can just hire one," says Mann.

For more information about the green benefits of tile roofing check out the Tile Roofing Institute website at tileroofing.org.

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