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.
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Climates & Microclimates
You probably welcome the heat from the sun on those cold winter days, however, in the summer that solar heat can cause air conditioners to work harder and contribute to higher costs on your energy bill. Planting trees, bushes or shrubs outside your home to shade windows, roofs and air conditioners can reduce surrounding air temperatures and help keep energy costs down. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, shading an air conditioner can increase its efficiency by as much as 10%. The best type of tree to use will depend on your shading needs and the size, density and shape of the tree.
You can block the wind chill from your house and reduce heating costs in the winter by planting trees and shrubs around your home to create windbreaks. The most common type of windbreak is planted to the north and northwest of the home using dense trees with low crowns that block wind close to the ground. Windbreaks planted two to five times the mature height of the trees away from the home will provide maximum wind chill protection. You can also plant shrubs, bushes and vines closer (leaving at least 1 foot of space between the full-grown plant and your house) to create dead air spaces that insulate your home in both winter and summer.
The most energy-efficient landscaping plan for your home will vary based on your climate. Below are strategies for the most common regional climate categories in the U.S. But keep in mind it’s also important to have an understanding of your microclimate and whether your location receives more sun, shade, wind, rain, snow, moisture and/or dryness than average local conditions.