Make your yard work for you
Article was added on Wednesday, May 21, 2014
location, location is the mantra in real
estate, but it also applies to your yard this time of year when the
search is on to lower energy bills and create curb appeal.
Positioning the right combination of plants and trees can yield
shade, beautify, and unearth energy savings. Such smart or
energy-efficient landscaping can, on average, provide enough energy
savings to see a return on your initial investment in less than
eight years, claims the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
trees can reduce a household's energy consumption for heating and
cooling by up to 25 percent. 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. This spring, make your yard work for you. Just
a few simple landscaping considerations can make a big difference
in your home's comfort and in the efficiency of your heating and
Use trees and plants to shade a window air conditioner. Having
shade can increase its efficiency by as much as 10 percent. For
good airflow and access, position plants more than three feet from
the air conditioner.
Shrubs and trees can form windbreaks or protective walls that keep
wind chill away from a home. That's important because wind speed
lowers outside air temperatures, and ultimately saves on higher
heating costs. Common turf grass and other low-growing plants are
ideal barriers. So are evergreens, especially when combined with a
wall or fence to deflect or even lift wind over a home. For best
protection, plan on leaving between two to five times the mature
height of the trees or shrubs between the windbreak and the
Made in the
Indoors, you may be
protected from the sun's rays, but your energy bill can rise as
your air conditioner works harder to keep your house cool and
comfortable. Planting shade trees can add to your comfort at home
by dropping the surrounding air temperature by as much as nine
degrees Fahrenheit. But choosing just the right tree may require a
compass and patience while they grow to work for you:
When selecting shade trees, keep in mind the mature height of the
tree and the shape of its shade canopy in relation to the height of
your home. These factors are important because they should
influence how far from the house you decide to plant a tree. Always
avoid planting near underground utility lines.
Shading takes time-a 6-foot to 8-foot deciduous tree planted near a
house will begin shading windows in a year. Depending on the
species and the home, the tree will shade the roof in five to 10
Make planting shade trees due west of west-facing windows your
Select a tree that can be planted within 20 feet of the window and
that will grow at least 10 feet taller than that window. If you
have the space, use as many trees as needed to create a continuous
row along all major west- and east-facing windows.
Contrary to intuition, the least energy-efficient place for a tree
is to the south of a house.
Different trees can serve
a variety of purposes. To block summer heat while letting sun
filter through in the winter months, use deciduous trees or those
that lose their leaves seasonally. Evergreens and shrubs, on the
other hand, are ideal for providing continuous shade and blocking
heavy winds. Also, keep in mind that not all shade plants are tall.
Shrubs and sturdy groundcover plants also provide good shade by
reducing heat radiation and cooling air before it reaches your
home's walls and windows.
planting savings and let your yard do all the work-a well-placed
tree, shrub, or vine can deliver effective shade, act as a
windbreak, and reduce your energy bills.
B. DENISE HAWKINS writes on
consumer and cooperative affairs for the National Rural Electric
Cooperative Association, the Arlington, Va.-based service arm of
the nation's 900-plus consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric
Department of Energy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and
Together, trees form a protective windbreak on farms, helping to
minimize wind movement. Expert staff from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
can support homeowners, farmers and businesses. NRCS Service
Centers are located in most U.S. counties. USDA researchers are
developing hearty plants, shrubs, grasses, and vegetation that are
being used as windbreaks in residential landscaping. By reducing
wind speed, these barriers can help keep your home warmer in the
winter and heating costs down.
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