Few people ever consider how their landscape affects their energy bills. Well–designed landscaping is more than just aesthetics for one’s home; it is also a good way of keeping one’s energy bills down. A well–placed shrub, vine, or tree can act as a windbreaker, deliver effective shade, and significantly help make a home more energy efficient. In fact, well–positioned trees can help a homeowner reduce his/her energy usage by up to 25%. During summer days, for instance, air temperatures can be 3 degrees to 6 degrees cooler in tree–shaded neighborhoods than in neighborhoods with no trees.
Other statistics to illustrate this point include:
• A shaded roof can increase an AC’s energy efficiency by more than 10%.
• Plants acting as windbreakers can cut winter heating costs by 10 to 30%.
• Three trees shading a house can cut cooling costs by as much as 50.
• A single shade tree can equal the cooling power of 15 ACs.
• Best of all, trees and shrubs do not incur any running costs, save for the occasional trimming and raking, which can be done by the homeowner.
An energy efficient landscape utilizes ground covers, shrubs, vines, and trees to provide insulation against heat loss in winter and cooling summer shade. In addition, it serves aesthetic purposes. By using plants as natural and beautiful insulating blankets or air conditioners, homeowners can soften their homes’ architectural edge with flowers and foliage while improving its performance.
Homeowners can minimize their winter heating bills by doing the following:
• Planting evergreens to block the freezing cold northwest winds. Such plants can protect an area up to ten times as far out as its height. Therefore, a series of, say, 30–foot trees can offer protection to a 300–foot wide area.
• Homeowners can also place walls, plantings, or berms near their homes to form a dead air space, which acts as an insulator.
• Planting deciduous trees, particularly on the south side of a home can screen 70% to 90% of the hot summer sun, while allowing cool breezes through.
• Creating green, open areas on the south side of a house can create an area for snow to accumulate. When light reflects this snow, it can offer a radiant heating effect onto the house.
• Building concrete or snow surfaces around a house can soak up heat during the day and reflect it during a cold night.
On the other hand, homeowners can reduce their summer cooling costs by doing the following:
• Building pergolas, awnings and other shade–giving structures.
• Positioning patios and decks on the east side of their homes.
• Planting trees where they will shade the windows.
• Planting a row of trees on one side of a wall or house to funnel breezes through the property.
• Installing water features such as a pond to cool the air around the whole landscape.
• Planting a cluster of trees to act as low–tech air conditioners for the entire house.
Obviously, these strategies take time. However, this is the best way to guarantee future energy efficiency. In addition, a well–designed landscape can significantly increase the value of a home. it can also add beauty, help reduce water usage, and improve a home’s comfort.
Better Home Heat Council specializes in educating consumers about the economical and efficient use of oil heat. We also help consumers address energy efficiency issues within their homes. We support local oil companies of Lehigh Valley that provide a range of services and products. Click here to search for a home heating oil dealer in your area. Many of our oil dealers provide energy assessments for their customers.