Did you know a well-planned landscape can reduce a home's summer air conditioning costs by 15 to 50 percent? On top of that, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a well-designed landscape will:
- Protect your home from winter wind and summer sun
- Reduce consumption of water, pesticides and fuel for landscaping and lawn maintenance
- Help control noise and air pollution
Strategically placed trees can be as effective as other energy saving home improvements.
- Shade: Well-selected, well-placed deciduous trees can provide summer shade and allow incoming solar heat in the winter once they have dropped their leaves. These trees are best placed on the south and west sides of your home. A minimum of three large trees around your home can reduce your air conditioning costs up to 30 percent, and shading your air conditioner unit can increase its efficiency by up to 10 percent (but be sure to allow for adequate airflow).
- Windbreaks: The right combination of trees and shrubbery can provide a natural screen that protects your home from wind, noise, and dust. Generally, rows of shrubs and evergreens placed on the north and west sides of your home are most effective. As evergreens retain their leaves and needles all year long, they are great as windbreaks and can save 10 to 50 percent in energy used for heating.
- Foundation planting: Low trees and shrubs planted close to your home reduce wind currents and create a dead air space that helps reduce heat loss in the winter and provides a buffer from hot outside air in the summer.
These techniques may not be possible in rural forested areas due to fire safety and concerns. To be safe, remember to always call 811 at least two working days before doing any digging and select utility friendly trees.