Save energy from your landscaping: All about strategic shading

My last post regarding how to save energy in your home’s heating and cooling systems through landscaping techniques covered the four main climate regions. Once you have identified which region your own home fits into you can then tailor your shrubbery and trees as such. One of the major ways to help keep your home cool in the hot summers is to use the shade naturally cast by these trees and bushes to your advantage. You may not think that this could make that much of a difference in how much you rely on your air conditioner but consider this: maximizing shading around your home could lower the immediate temperature around this foliage by up to 9 degrees Fahrenheit, also the shady patches right below these trees have been noted of being up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit less than areas directly in the sun’s glare. So how can you use this to your advantage?

Of course those living in hotter climates have the most potential to save energy from this tactic so if you’ve identified yourself as falling into this category this technique will be crucial. Deciduous trees are going to be the most apt at keeping the sun at bay during the summer months yet because they shed their leaves in the winters they will allow what sunlight that is present during that time into your windows and which will work to heat up your home when it needs it. If you choose a particular kind of deciduous tree that is tall and has far reaching branches and leaves it will provide you the most coverage when planted near windows that receive the most direct sunlight; this would be southern windows if you reside in the US. Conversely those trees that are a bit shorter should be located by windows that get sunlight later in the day as the sun angles down; this would be westward windows if you are in the US. Something to keep in mind is that if you live in a colder climate you want to avoid planting trees in front of any windows that may get any available sunlight that there is as this will obviously only work against your and you won’t be able to save energy if you are having to turn up those thermostats!

Moving on to shrubs and evergreen trees that remain dense with leaves all year round; these will both offer you shade throughout the year and are best for only the climates that remain warm during all the seasons. These trees will also help to work as wind barriers if you have lots of gusty blows (more on that later). Low plants are a great way to reduce the heat that is radiated off of the driveway and other paved areas around your house; they can negate some of that heat from then being transferred into your windows and even through the walls. Having one big bush, or instead a series of smaller ones, or a hedge that lines these paved areas is one such idea. You can also use vines that climb up a trellis to help keep your home or even patio cool.

Something that you want to keep in mind with shrubs if you live in a particularly humid climate is that you don’t want them planted directly next to your house’s walls only because they will accumulate excessive moisture. Harnessing whatever means that are available to you in order to cut back your reliance on in home heating and cooling systems is one of the best ways to save energy…and money too. Home temperature control is the leader for most energy consumption in the house and even small changes can make a huge difference. Be sure to check back for more ways to save energy thanks to quick landscaping tips!

Photo credit: Rutlo