What if someone told you that something beautiful, organic, and potentially stately could cut your cooling bills in half and also reduce your heating bills? What if that thing could also provide a home for birds, something to climb, and a source of oxygen for the planet? Yep – trees can cut your energy bills while doing a whole lot more.
There are three main ways to use trees to curb your energy expenses.
- Plant deciduous trees on the south, west, and east sides of your home. These trees will provide shade from solar radiation in summer while allowing the sun’s rays into the home in winter. Plan for the mature heights and roots of the trees when planting, and plant trees with strong limbs to avoid storm damage. But be sure to consider whether you wish to install a rooftop solar system that would be shaded by trees before planting.
- Plant an evergreen hedge upwind from prevailing winds in your area. Not only will a windbreak provide a barrier against fierce winter winds that increase air infiltration in the home, but a really thick evergreen hedge can create a dead airspace between the trees and the home that serves as an insulating layer. CSU maintains statewide wind data that can help you see where prevailing winds tend to come from near you. (Click your nearest wind site and scroll down to the wind rose.)
- Burn them! Although burning wood or pellets does emit pollutants, EPA-certified wood- burning appliances combined with smart combustion techniques can have environmental benefits when compared to other heating fuels. And biomass is renewable.
To learn more as we head into Earth Week, see our fact sheet on Landscaping for Energy Conservation.