If you've been looking into earth-friendly and energy efficient-roofing options, you've probably come across green roofs. Outfitted with natural plants, they surely are good for the environment as they consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They're also very insulating, so they conserve energy. However, green roofs are quite costly, tough to maintain, and conspicuous. If you're looking for an energy-efficient roof that won't break the bank or call too much attention to itself, here's a look at a few better options.

Reflective shingles

If you really like the traditional look of asphalt shingles, you don't have to forego this option just because you value energy-efficiency. Manufacturers now make a type of shingle known as "reflective shingles." These shingles are made with metallic granules that reflect more sunlight, rather than absorbing it. As a result, your roof stays cooler and your energy bills are lower in the summer. Reflective shingles come in an array of colors, but the light-colored ones, like tan and white, are the most energy-efficient since light colors naturally absorb less light than dark ones.

Metal roofing

Metal roofs are becoming more and more popular, and this is largely due to their energy efficiency. Metal is, of course, quite reflective, and it can be painted white or cream to increase its reflectivity even more. In the summer, a home with a metal roof stays cooler and requires less AC than one with a traditional shingle roof. In the winter, snow slides right off the metal roof, so you don't have to worry about it constantly imparting cold into your home.

Some homeowners shy away from metal roofs because they fear they'll have a strange appearance, but today's metal roofs can be made to closely resemble shingles or cedar shakes if you prefer. They come in large panel and smaller, shingle-like options.

Cedar shakes

If you prefer an all-natural option, then consider topping your house with some cedar shakes. Wood is a great natural insulator, so the shakes will trap more heat inside your home in the winter and also block heat from coming in during the summer. Plus, your roof will have a beautiful, rustic look and you'll have the joy of knowing it's made from a sustainable product rather than from non-renewable resources.

To learn more about these and other energy-efficient roofing materials, speak with a roofing contractor in your area. They can evaluate your current energy use and let you know how much you're likely to save with various options. For more information, visit a website such as http://www.alpenroofing.com.