Rising home energy prices are hitting pocketbooks hard. While you can’t control the price of oil, electricity, or natural gas, you can use the landscape around your home to cut energy costs. The United States Department of Energy reports that strategically planted trees and smart landscaping can lower energy bills by about 25 percent annually. When designing your landscape your goal should be to maximize the warming potential of the sun in winter and minimize heat absorption in the summer. Here are some tips.
Plant trees to cool down the air around your home and in your neighborhood. Trees act like nature’s air conditioner by releasing water vapor into the air. This process, called evapotranspiration, reduces ambient air temperatures by as much as 9 degrees F.
Plant trees in a spot that shades your roof and windows in the summer, yet still allow light in during the winter; this is a key way to reduce air conditioning and heating costs. When the sun shines through windows and onto your roof it can dramatically heat up the inside of your house. To maximize summer shading and winter light penetration, plant three deciduous trees that grow 30 to 35 feet tall around the southwest corner of your house. Plant the trees about 20 feet from your house and 30 feet apart.
How to Design a Tropical Landscape
Ensure the most efficient operation of your air conditioner by installing it in a spot that stays shady most of the day. If you already have an air conditioner, consider planting trees or shrubs around it to provide shade. Just be sure the unit’s airflow is not inhibited by the vegetation.
Plant evergreen shrubs around the foundation of your home. The air space between the shrubs and your house acts like an extra layer of insulation and helps keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Protect your house from wind and reduce winter energy consumption by 25 percent or more by planting a dense hedge on the windiest side of your home (often the north and east side). Wind chill can dramatically lower the air temperature and increase heating costs in winter. The hedge will act as a windbreak and shelter your house from the wind chill.
Steer clear of installing large unshaded areas of rock or paving on the south and west sides of your home. These materials soak up solar energy during the day and release it at night, heating up the air around the house and causing your air conditioner to work overtime.
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