Watt, Why & How e-Newsletter

Your Green Thumb Can Lead to Energy Savings

Green lawn

In addition to the added beauty a well-designed landscape brings to your home, it can also help to reduce your heating and cooling costs. If you live in an area that experiences significant seasonal climate changes, consider a landscape design that provides maximum shade in summer and shields your home from cold temperatures and strong winds in winter.

Shade

Solar heat gain through your windows and roof reduces comfort on hot summer days and increases cooling costs. Leafy trees planted on the south and west sides of your home will provide cooling shade in summer. In the autumn and winter, after the leaves fall, your home will receive more sun, helping to keep it warm.  

Tree species are available in a variety of sizes and shapes for almost any shade application. Trees with high, spreading crowns (leaves and branches) on the south side of your home will provide maximum roof shading. Trees with lower crowns are more appropriate to the west, where shade from the lower afternoon sun is needed. A six to eight foot tree planted near your home will provide shade for windows during the first year. Depending on the species and the roof, a tree will provide roof shading within 5 to 10 years.

Shrubs and ground cover will help shade the ground and pavement around your home. This reduces heat radiation and cools the air before it reaches your walls and windows. 

Windbreaks

Properly selected, placed and maintained landscaping can provide good wind protection for your home, reducing winter heating costs. A windbreak reduces heating costs by lowering the wind chill around your home. Wind chill is the temperature that it feels like outside, and is based on air temperature and wind speed.

Dense evergreen trees planted on the north and northwest sides of the home are the most common types of windbreaks. Trees can be planted with bushes and shrubs to block wind from the ground level to the treetops. Location is important in providing an effective windbreak. From your home, plant trees at a distance of two to five times their mature height. 

Keep in mind

Your landscaping strategy and tree choices may depend on your region or climate zone. Contact yourcounty extension office for advice about what species are best suited for your area. Also, locate trees far enough away from your home so that when they mature, their root systems do not damage your foundation and their branches do not touch your roof.  

Remember, before beginning any landscaping project that involves digging, call 811 to have underground utility lines marked. Knowing where utility lines are buried can help you avoid injury, service outages and repair costs. 

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