Did you know that just three trees properly placed around a house can save up to 30% of home energy use? This is according to the U.S. Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research, which carried out computer simulations of annual cooling savings. They found that a typical energy efficient home in the Southwest spends about $250 each year for air conditioning. Shade from two 25-foot tall trees on the west and one on the east would save this same household $57 a year, or 23%.
In addition to saving you money, shade trees can also add to the beauty of your landscape. Just look at how they compliment this home (above) in the Dallas-Fort Worth area!
Some things to consider when planting trees:
- Deciduous trees: Deciduous trees (ones that lose their leaves) should be planted on the east and west sides of your house. They will keep your house cool in the summer and let the sun warm your home in the winter, reducing energy use, and lowering summer air conditioning costs by up to 35% according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Be sure to check out the latest Arbor Day Foundation Hardiness Zone Map to see what deciduous trees will best grow in your area.
- Evergreen trees: If you live in a cooler climate, after the leaves fall in autumn, the sun pours through tree branches to warm your home in winter. The sun travels lower on the southern horizon in winter, so you’ll want to avoid planting evergreen trees on the south side of your home where they’ll block winter sunshine. Instead, plant an evergreen conifer windbreak on the north and northwest of your home to block cold winter winds. Planting a row of conifer trees on the north and northwest sides of your property creates a wall against cold winter winds—saving your heating costs by up to 30%.
- Planting locations: Trees or shrubs planted to shade air conditioners help cool a building more efficiently, using less electricity. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun. And trees that shade patios, sidewalks, and driveways can cool the concrete or the entire yard.
The economic benefits of tree planting will vary from location to location depending upon climate and other factors. To get a better idea of how much you can save by planting a tree in your yard, check out the Tree Benefit Calculator from The Davey Tree Institute and Casey Trees.