Many homeowners have high utility bills in the summer and winter. Adding more insulation to your house can lower your energy costs, but there are other steps that can help. Planting trees can reduce your utility bills, provided you choose the right types of trees and plant them in the right locations.
Use Trees to Save Money in the Summer
Trees can provide shade that can block the sun and help keep the interior of your house cool. In addition, trees lose water vapor and cool the environment around them through the process of transpiration. The combination of those two effects can result in substantial savings on your energy bills.
Plant deciduous trees that will have leaves in the warmer months and will lose them in the fall. Deciduous trees will provide shade when you need it in the summer. In the winter, after they’ve lost their leaves, those trees will allow sunlight to naturally warm your house.
Trees should be planted on the sides of the house that get the most direct sunlight. Planting different species that will grow to a variety of heights can provide shade when the sun is at different angles in the sky.
If you have an outdoor air conditioning unit, planting trees where they can offer shade will help the AC operate more efficiently. Plant trees so that branches will hang over the AC unit and provide shade, but they won’t hang down and possibly damage the unit or keep it from functioning properly.
Plant Trees to Reduce Your Winter Energy Usage
Winter wind that enters your house through gaps and cracks can make it cold inside and force your furnace to work harder. Trees can serve as a windbreak and help your house stay warm in the winter.
Plant evergreen trees on the sides of your house that tend to get the most wind and group them together so they can form a windbreak. Plant them perpendicular to the direction of prevailing winds.
Position the trees at a distance from the house that is 2-5 times the height they will be when mature. That distance will enable the trees to effectively reduce wind speed and keep your house warmer.
Don’t plant evergreen trees on the sides of your house that get the most sunlight. If you do, they will block the sun. That means you won’t get to enjoy the benefits of natural heating and the associated energy savings during the winter.
Protect Other Structures in Your Yard
When you plant trees, it’s important to think about how big they will be when they’re fully mature, in terms of both their height and the length of their roots. You don’t want to have tree branches scraping the house or interfering with utility lines or have roots that grow underneath your deck, driveway or walkway, and cause damage. Consult a local landscaper for help choosing the right species and locations.