Planting Trees for Energy Savings
According to the Department of Energy, a well-planned landscape can reduce an unshaded home’s air conditioning costs by 15 to 50 percent. Our nation’s energy authority also boasts that on average, a well-designed landscape saves enough energy to pay for itself in less than 8 years.
Although effective, shade-producing landscaping strategies vary by climate, here are some general planting guidelines from the Arbor Day Foundation:
- Plant on the west and northwest side of your home to provide mid- to late-afternoon shade.
- Plant shade trees over patios, driveways, and air-conditioning units (but never crowd or block your A/C unit—it should have a five-foot clearance above it and three feet on all sides).
- Use trees to shade east and west windows. If they block your view, prune lower branches.
- In general, large, deciduous trees planted on the east, west, and northwest sides of your home create shade in the summer and can help decrease the cost of running your air conditioner in the heat of the summer.
And what is deciduous, you ask? Deciduous trees shed their leaves annually. Although It equates to a lot of leaves to rake come October, the annual cycle lets the sunshine through in the winter but blocks the sun’s rays in the summer. Either scenario helps reduce energy costs if trees are strategically placed in relation to your home.
Trees that don’t shed leaves are called evergreens, which usually block the sun year-round. That’s great in the summer but not so hot in the winter.
Consult a landscape professional for specific recommendations.