Home Heat Loss

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Dear NH,
I have a question about heat loss. How much heat is lost if a roof is exposed (re-shingling w/total removal of old shingles) and the roof has lats (boards that are laid length wise with gaps of about 1/2 - 1") instead of being fully covered with plywood? Are shingles used to retain heat or are they more for protection from the elements?

In a typical home whose roof is over an unheated attic space, the roof structure is not part of the insulation system. And you don't want it to be. In principle if not in practice, you want the temperature of the attic space to be the same as the temperature outside or lower... in harmony with nature if you will! That's why there are minimum ventilation requirements for attics to keep the outside air flowing through to equalize temperatures and allow moisture to escape to the outside.

A roof deck made of gapped horizontal boards as you describe would add somewhat to the ventilation of the attic and could lead to lower temperatures, since asphalt shingles do not provide a solid barrier against air infiltration. An even greater ventilation effect would occur with cedar, slate or tile roofing.

A plywood roof deck, on the other hand, seals somewhat tightly and therefore offers less ventilation regardless of the roofing material.

In either case, though, if there is a venting system in place, the difference might be inconsequential.

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