Landscaping can be about more than just beautifying your home and increasing its value; a little strategic planning can also net real energy savings. In fact, according to WellHome, the right landscape design can actually improve HVAC efficiency between 15-50%.
Below, we’ll take a look at WellHome’s ideas for getting started with energy efficient landscaping and discuss how these simple strategies can create real efficiency enhancements you’ll notice in your utility bills.
Maximizing Air Conditioning Savings
Amazingly, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests that up to $250 a year can be saved through thoughtful planting of just a few trees. How is this possible? For one, trees planted on the east and west sides of the home provide shade throughout the day as the Sun works its way across the sky.
In addition, the temperature of the area immediately surrounding a tree can be up to 25 degrees cooler than nearby asphalt or other surfaces due to a process called evapotranspiration. Simply put, as water is transported from the tree into the atmosphere, the surrounding temperature becomes cooler.
Of course some considerations are in order when it comes to shading; for one, try to avoid placing plants which need frequent watering away from the foundation of your home, as constant watering can begin to attack and weaken your foundation. Consider how your gutters operate, shuttling water away from the perimeter of the home, protecting the foundation.
Bonus tip: For increased energy efficiency, consider the placement of your HVAC unit. Many experts suggest placing the unit on the north side of the home if possible to minimize exposure to the Sun. If this isn’t an option, consider a shaded area on the south side of your home.
Energy Efficiency in the Winter Months
Many of the strategies are the same in the Winter months, but this time the wind is the primary factor to dampen through landscape. Larger trees will help to redirect wind over the home, while smaller trees, bushes, hills, retaining walls, and other structures can help block the wind.
Wind direction can vary between Summer and Winter and may be different depending on your particular region, but many experts suggest placing windbreaks on the north or northwest side of the property. Another important consideration is to maximize Sun exposure on the southern side of the property (or to at least not directly block it). Deciduous trees can work well, as they will provide shade in the Summer but as the leaves fall, they will allow sunshine to hit the home through the Winter.
As mentioned above, landscape considerations can help protect the foundation of your home. If your area tends to receive snow over the Winter, consider planting low shrubs near the perimeter of the home. This will help catch snow and prevent it from blowing against the home and melting into the foundation.
Chris Tyson is a freelance writer for DeSignia Landscape, a Charlotte, NC based landscape design and maintenance company.