Tempe, Arizona (NAPSI) - According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, heating and cooling costs the average homeowner more than $1,000 a year, or nearly half a home’s total energy bill—but you can reduce utility bills. One of the best ways may be to install a solar roof.

In the past, bulky, expensive, rack-mounted solar panels were the only option available to homeowners who wanted to reduce their reliance on traditional electricity sources. And if you wanted a cool roofing shingle, going green meant going white.

Now there are affordable, aesthetically pleasing photovoltaic solar panels manufactured to seamlessly integrate with asphalt roofing shingles. When combined with solar reflective shingles, homeowners can create a beautiful, energy-efficient system with exceptional curb appeal. Perhaps even better, this combination benefits the environment by reversing the solar radiation absorption that can cause a rise in temperature, or heat island effect, in highly populated areas.

One of the new, affordable residential solar panel options available is the CertainTeed Apollo solar roofing system. It is lightweight, durable and easily installed into either an existing roof or a new asphalt shingle roof. Each slim photovoltaic module features polycrystalline silicon solar cells that can offset 30 to 70 percent of a home’s electricity usage. If it exceeds power usage, the excess flows back through the meter into the power grid, creating a credit to your account.

Generally, these new integrated solar systems are installed with solar reflective roofing shingles, such as CertainTeed Landmark Solaris with rich colored granules, which reduce a roof’s surface temperature by as much as 20 percent in hot weather. This means while the solar panels are working overtime to collect the sun’s rays, your family won’t have to adjust the cooling system to stay comfortable indoors. These Energy Star−qualified laminated asphalt shingles come in a variety of popular styles and colors.

A roof makes up approximately 40 percent of a home’s exterior. However, investing in a cool roof is now a practical option, with an integrated system feasibly paying for itself in as little as four years. Also, solar panel installation qualifies for a 30 percent federal tax credit—available through 2016. Many roofing contractors throughout the U.S.are also taking advantage of solar training, and communities and utilities often have money-saving programs, which can be found at www.dsireusa.org.

To learn more about solar roofing, visit www.certainteed.com or call (800) 233-8990.