Energy-Saving Landscaping that Saves Money
by Rodney Hartman
When people think of ways to save money on energy, they seldom think of landscaping, but a little landscaping can lower your monthly energy bills if done correctly. By landscaping, you can help the environment at the same time you’re helping your bank account. Although landscaping is a long-term investment, it’s one that can pay off for the rest of your life.
Proper landscaping can help reduce energy costs during both summer and winter, but landscaping is most effective at energy savings during summer. Even a well-insulated home absorbs heat from direct sunlight, and it also absorbs transient heat from the air. Consequently, anything you do to prevent the sun from shining directly on your home will help prevent your home from absorbing solar heat. Additionally, anything you can do to cool the air around your home will reduce the amount of heat your home absorbs from the air.
Landscape to shade your windows
Many energy experts estimate about 60 percent of the sun’s solar heating effect on your home comes through your windows. While your air conditioner is running to remove the heat from your home, any sunlight that shines through your windows is adding heat back to the air in your home.
The obvious way to keep the sunlight’s solar heat from entering your home is to cover the windows with drapes. But, if you enjoy the scenery outside your home, closing your drapes on a sunny day may not be your ideal solution. Another answer would be to plant trees and bushes that will help shade your windows during the hottest part of the day.
If you live in the northern hemisphere, the sun will shine through your windows at a high angle during most of the day. As a result, you should plant shade trees on the south side of your home that will grow to be tall when they mature.
On the other hand, the sun is low on the horizon as it sets in the west during the late afternoon. Consequently, you should plant trees that have a low to medium height on the west side of your home.
Landscape to cool the air
Trees and plants have a natural cooling effect on the air in their vicinity. By planting low bushes and shrubs around the edges of your home, you can take advantage of a plant’s cooling effect. An especially good way to lower the heat around your home is to plant low bushes, hedges, or shrubs along sidewalks and driveways near your home. This helps reduce the heat radiation around your home, and that helps lower the amount of energy you’ll need to cool your home.
Landscaping is a long-term investment, but it’s an investment that pays off by beautifying your home, helping the environment, and saving you energy and money. So, instead of complaining about the heat this summer, plant a tree. After you do, you can watch your energy bills get lower every year as your trees and plants mature.