When it comes to selecting shingles for your roof, material and color choices can depend a lot on the location of your home or business. Asphalt shingles in shades of dark gray and black are a popular choice among plenty of homes across northern America while clay tile or shake shingles are more common in the south and southwest. Look to tropical locations such as the Greek isles and you’ll see blazing white roof tops that aid in reflecting the ever present sun, helping to keep homes cool.

thermeleon-energy-saving-roof-tiles-3-300x169If you live in a region that experiences all four seasons, it might be hard to know which shingle type is best for your climate and home. However, a team of MIT graduates may have found the answer. Using a thermally activated polymer, the team developed “Thermeleon” roof tiles, a play on words which highlights the roof tiles’ chameleon-like characteristics. When temperatures dip during winter months, the tile turns black which allows the roof to absorb energy and effectively saves on heating costs. However as ambient air temperatures rise in the summer, the roof tiles turn white to reflect heat away from the structure resulting in cooler interior temperatures.

Using a fairly common polymer that is often found in products like hair gels, the team played around with mixing the polymer in a water solution before layering it between glass and plastic for the final roof tile design. Depending on the specific formula used for the solution, the tiles can be tailored to change at different temperatures depending on climate demands. The darkest layer is at the back of the tile with the dissolved polymer solution on top. As ambient air temperatures rise, the solution condenses into minute droplets which create a white surface and scatter light, ultimately deflecting the sun and it’s heat.

While the team is still tweaking it’s design to consider factors such as durability and longevity, their Thermeleon idea could be a game-changer in the roofing industry. They are even working on producing a Thermeleon paint line that could simply be sprayed on the surface of existing shingles to create the same color changing effect.