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Landscaping for energy efficiency

With flowers in their late-summer glory and tomatoes ripening on the vine, it’s hard to believe that fall is almost here. The warm days and cool nights of autumn will soon coax the leaves into a riot of color, and it won’t be long before heaters start clicking on again. If you’re interested in reducing heating and cooling costs of your home, strategic landscaping around its exterior can provide savings of up to 30 percent on heating costs and between 50 and 75 percent on air conditioning.

The basic idea behind energy-efficient landscaping is to plant deciduous trees to block the summer sun and evergreen trees to block winter winds. Closely spaced evergreens with dense foliage all the way to the ground, such as blue spruce, make the best windblocks. Situated on the north/northeast side of the home, a windblock can cut wind velocity up to 80 percent, which can mean real savings on your heating bill.

Shade protection on the roof and east/west sides of a home has a cooling effect in summer. Trees with a lower crown are useful on the west side of a home to block the low sun in the afternoon, and trees with a higher crown shade the roof. A 6 to 8 foot deciduous tree will shade windows within a year and the roof within 5 to 10 years depending on the species. Planting deciduous trees to shade pavement and walkways in the summer reduces heat radiation, cooling air before it reaches the home, and shading your air conditioning unit can increase its efficiency up to 10 percent.

Simply planting a border of shrubs and bushes next to the home insulates it year round. Just be sure to plan for at least a 1 foot space between the mature plant and the house. To be most effective, a landscape plan should be tailored to your specific lot and microclimate. If you are interested in how energy efficient landscaping can help you, please give us a call at 541-420-1770.