Landscaping for energy efficiency

About: Saving money with trees 

A well-designed landscape not only can add beauty to your home but also can reduce your heating and cooling costs. Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25 percent of the energy a typical household uses. Shading is the most cost-effective way to reduce solar heat gain in your home and cut air conditioning costs. On average, a well-designed landscape saves enough energy to pay for itself in less than 8 years. To effectively shade your home, you need to know the size, shape and location of the shadow that your shading device casts.


Save with shade

About: Planting trees to shade your home
Save with shade

The best tree for your yard depends on the shading you want to provide. Deciduous trees, such as maples, block solar heat in the summer but let in sunlight during the winter when they’ve lost their leaves. Deciduous trees with leaves and branches lower to the ground should be planted to the west of your home, where shade is needed from lower afternoon sun angles. To provide continuous shade, use dense evergreen trees or shrubs.


Block out the cold

About: Planting trees for windbreaks
Block out the cold

Properly selected, placed, and maintained landscaping can provide excellent wind protection, or windbreaks, which will reduce heating costs considerably. A windbreak reduces heating costs by lowering the wind chill near your home. It also creates dead air space that insulates your home in the summer and winter. Evergreen trees and shrubs provide continuous shade. Plant these to the north and northwest of your home to stop wind.


Patience is a virtue

About: Timeline for benefits of planting trees
Patience with trees

You may see a little benefit from your trees early on; however the full benefit will take a few more years to be realized. A 6-foot to 8-foot deciduous tree planted near your home will begin shading windows the first year. Depending on the species and the home, the tree will shade the roof in 5 to 10 years. To ensure lasting performance of energy-saving landscaping, use plant species that are adapted to the local climate.


Did you know?

Using computer models, the DOE determined that proper placement of only three trees on your property can save an average household between $100 and $250 in yearly energy costs.