Before you bring in a contractor to replace your current asphalt shingle roof with new asphalt shingles, it might be a good idea to determine if you want to go green. There are several choices that can help you save energy and also help improve the environment. All three options discussed below can be installed on a current roof without having to replace the existing roof decking. The regular plywood decking (as long as it is in good shape) will be fine. Unlike heavy slate shingles that would call for a reinforced decking, you don't have to replace the regular wood decking or add structural support devices to the rafters, so none of the ideas mentioned below are huge undertaking.
If you like the idea of solar energy, but don't want huge solar panels on your roof because you are not too crazy about how they look, then you should look into solar shingles. These are designed to blend into a normal asphalt shingle roof, so from street level someone won't see any sort of disruption on the roof. You will have to speak to the roofing contractor and ask them where the best spot it is to install the solar shingles. You want the shingles to receive maximum sun exposure and not be situated under tree limbs. Also, the solar shingles will need to be connected to a convertor and relay system in your basement (near the fuse box). A small hole will have to be drilled into the roof decking, and a wire run downstairs.
If you have a ranch house, and you want to get lots of light into your home, then a skylight is an amazing feature. You could have it installed above the livingroom or dining room, and it will eliminate the need for lights during the day. The skylight can also be really beautiful at night, allowing you to look up at the moon and stars. The roofer can cut the hole and install the skylight anywhere you like. Speak with them about the particular features you would like. You should make sure you get an energy-efficient skylight (double-pane glass, perhaps even with gas insulation between the panes).
Reclaimed Wood Shingles
If you want to completely abandon the use of asphalt shingles, don't feel like spending money on a cooper roof, and don't like the idea of having fresh trees cut down for your wooden shingles, then you can get reclaimed wood shingles. These are made from old barns, decks, and cottages that have been torn down. The wood is processed, run through a planer, and fashioned to be used again as shingles. You can get cedar, oak, or other hardwood shingles. It's a great way to be eco-conscious and also have a really cool story to tell people over dinner (how your roof used to be part of an old dairy barn out in the country, for example).
Contact a professional roofing company like Stevens Roofing Corporation for more information.