A well-designed landscape can help protect your home from winter wind and summer sun, and effectively reduce your energy costs year-round. Before you start landscaping, consider your climate, your home’s microclimate, as well as the wind directions and shading around your home to help you devise a plan.
Heating and cooling is the largest energy expense for most homes. In fact, it accounts for over 50% of energy use. Smart landscaping is an easy, cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing way to lower your home energy costs. Strategically positioned trees can save up to 25% of a household’s energy consumption for heating and cooling. Shading an air conditioning unit can increase its efficiency by up to 10%. On average, a well-designed landscape creates enough energy savings to pay for itself in less than 8 years.
Climates & Microclimates
Specific landscaping strategies and planting tips will vary by region and microclimate. A microclimate is a small or large area where the climate differs from the surrounding area, and impacts the type of plants that can grow in your landscape.
A windbreak reduces heating costs by lowering the wind chill around your home. It also creates dead air space that insulates your home in the summer and winter.
Planting trees, bushes or shrubs to shade windows, roofs and air conditioners helps reduce solar heat gain in your home, surrounding air temperatures and overall energy costs.
Seasonal Tips for the Temperate Region
In the winter, take advantage of the sun’s warming effect and deflect winds with dense windbreaks.
In the summer, shade the south and west sides of your home from the hot sun.
Windbreak Planting Tips
Coniferous trees and shrubs have leaves year round which provides continuous shade. Plant coniferous trees and shrubs to the north and northwest of your home to stop wind.
Make the distance between your home and the windbreak about two to five times the height of the mature tree for maximum protection.
Build a fence or wall, in addition to planting coniferous trees, to deflect the wind over your home.
Plant low shrubs on the windward side of the windbreak to trap snow before it blows next to your home.
Shade Planting Tips
Deciduous trees block solar heat in the summer and lose their leaves in the fall which lets sunlight in during the winter.
Plant a six- to eight-foot deciduous tree near your home, and it will start shading your windows in the first year.
If you plant deciduous trees to the south of your home, they can screen 70-90% of the heat.
Plant trees with crowns lower to the ground on the west side if you want to shade from lower, afternoon sun angles.
Plant bushes, shrubs or climbing vines with a trellis to shade your patio area.
To cool the air before it reaches your home, plant shrubs and groundcover plants.