Many of us think indoors when the subject is energy efficiency in our home, such as high-efficiency propane water heaters, adding LED lighting and installing programmable thermostats. But is there something else you can do to make your home more efficient? The answer may be as close as outside.
Properly placed trees, shrubs, and other plants can help reduce your heating, cooling, and other energy costs.
Here are some recommendations for our part of North Carolina from the United States Department of Energy.
Talk with an expert at your local garden center for specifics on which plants, trees, and shrubs work best for your property.
Wind can make your home’s heating system have to work harder to keep your home warm.
Creating a windbreak helps block and minimize those winds. Thus, it will be harder for that cold air to get into your home in the form of drafts.
What should you plant? You need something with a low crown to block wind as close to the ground as possible. Think evergreens and taller shrubs. The ideal location is at the north and/or northwest side of your property, as that’s where the strongest cold winds come from. Don’t plant a windbreak close to your home’s south side because that will block sunlight. You’ll lose daytime heating and lighting.
Heating coming in from sunlight through windows and doors can make your home hotter than it should be in summer, and dramatically increase your cooling costs.
Well-placed trees, shrubs, and plants can reduce the temperature of the air around your home by as much as 6˚ thanks to shading and evapotranspiration, which is the process by which a plant actively moves and releases water vapor.
Deciduous trees provide shade in warmer weather, but once the leaves fall, don’t block daylight heating when you want it during the winter.
Sometimes, trees, shrubs and plants can be a barrier to energy efficiency. If a tree or shrub blocks light into south-facing windows during the winter, you’re losing out on passive heating while also forfeiting daylight in sunny areas. That lost daylight forces you to use lights and lamps more often, driving up your energy costs.
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