Smart Landscaping for Energy Efficiency

Landscaping for Energy Efficiency

Are you searching for affordable yet eye-pleasing ways to reduce your energy costs? Planting trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, and hedges might be the answer. In reality, landscaping might be your finest long-lasting investment for lowering cooling and heating costs, while likewise bringing other improvements to your neighborhood.

Landscaping is a natural and stunning way to keep your house more comfortable and decrease your energy bills. In addition to adding visual value and ecological quality to your home, a well-placed tree, shrub, or vine can deliver effective shade, serve as a windbreak, and minimize general energy expenses.

A properly designed landscape will:
Cut your summertime and winter season energy expenses dramatically.
Safeguard your home from winter wind and summertime sun.
Minimize usage of water, pesticides, and fuel for landscaping and lawn upkeep.
Help control sound and air contamination.

Landscaping Conserves Money Year-Round

Carefully positioned trees can save approximately 25% of a home’s energy intake for heating and air conditioning. Computer system models developed by the U.S. Department of Energy anticipate that the appropriate positioning of only three trees will conserve a typical household between $100 and $250 in energy costs yearly.

Usually, a properly designed landscape supplies enough energy cost savings to return your initial investment in less than 8 years. An 8-foot (2.4-meter) deciduous (leaf-shedding) tree, for instance, costs about as much as an awning for one large window and can ultimately save your household hundreds of dollars in decreased cooling costs, yet still confess some winter sunlight to minimize heating and lighting costs.

Landscaping can save you money in summer or winter.


You might have noticed the coolness of parks and wooded areas compared with the temperature level of neighboring city streets.

Shading and evapotranspiration (the procedure by which a plant actively moves and launches water vapor) from trees can reduce surrounding air temperature levels as much as 9 degrees F (5 degrees C).

Since cool air settles near the ground, air temperature levels straight under trees can be as much as 25 degrees F (14 degrees C) cooler than air temperature levels above nearby blacktop. Research studies by the Lawrence Berkeley Lab discovered summer daytime air temperature levels to be 3 degrees F to 6 degrees F (2 degrees C to 3 degrees C) cooler in tree- shaded neighborhoods than in treeless areas.

A well-planned landscape can minimize an unshaded home’s summer airconditioning costs by 15% to 50%. One Pennsylvania research study reported air-conditioning savings of as much as 75% for little mobile houses.


You might be familiar with wind chill factor.

If the outside temperature level is 10 degrees F (-12 degrees C) and the wind speed is 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour), the wind chill is -24 degrees F (-31 degrees C). Trees, fences, or geographical features can be utilized as windbreaks to protect your house from the wind.

A study in South Dakota found that windbreaks to the north, west, and east of homes cut fuel usage by approximately 40%. Houses with windbreaks placed only on the windward side (the side from which the wind is coming) averaged 25% less fuel usage than comparable however unprotected houses.

If you reside in a windy climate, your well-planned landscape can minimize your winter heating expenses by roughly one-third.

Landscaping for a Cleaner Environment

Extensive tree planting and climate-appropriate landscaping deal substantial ecological advantages. Trees and plants control erosion, secure water supplies, provide food, create habitat for wildlife, and clean the air by soaking up carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) approximates that metropolitan America has 100 million prospective tree areas (i.e., areas where trees might be planted). NAS even more estimates that filling these areas with trees and lightening the color of dark, city surface areas would result in yearly energy savings of 50 billion kilowatt-hours– 25% of the 200 billion kilowatt-hours taken in every year by a/c unit in the United States.

This would reduce electrical power plant emissions of co2 by 35 million heaps (32 million metric lots) each year and conserve users of utility-supplied electrical energy $3.5 billion each year (assuming approximately $0.07 per kilowatt-hour).

Also, some types of trees, bushes, and lawns require less water than others. Some types are naturally more resistant to insects, so they need less pesticides. Another alternative to pesticides is integrated pest management, an emerging field that utilizes least-toxic bug control strategies. One example is to present particular pests such as hoping mantises or ladybugs to feed on– and restrict populations of– landscape-consuming bugs.

Particular turfs, such as buffalo grass and fescue, just grow to a certain height– roughly 6 inches (15 centimeters) and are water thrifty. Using these types, you can eliminate the fuel, water, and time consumption connected with lawn mowing, watering, and cutting. Also, current studies have actually found that gasoline-powered lawn mowers, edge trimmers, and leaf blowers contribute to air pollution.

Consideration for Climate, Site, and Design, etc.


The United States can be divided into 4 approximate weather areas: temperate, hot-arid, hot-humid, and cool. The energy saving landscape techniques you utilize need to depend on which area you reside in. These landscaping methods are noted by region and in order of importance listed below.

1. Temperate

Make the most of warming results of the sun in the winter season.
Maximize shade throughout the summertime.
Deflect winter winds away from buildings.
Funnel summertime breezes towards the house.

2. Hot-Arid

Offer shade to cool roofings, walls, and windows.
Enable summer winds to access naturally cooled houses.
Block or deflect winds far from air-conditioned homes.

3. Hot-Humid

Channel summertime breezes towards the home.
Make the most of summer season shade with trees that still allow penetration of lowangle winter season sun.
Avoid finding planting beds close to the house if they require regular watering.

4. Cool

Usage dense windbreaks to secure the home from cold winter season winds.
Permit the winter season sun to reach south-facing windows.
Shade south and west windows and walls from the direct summer sun, if summertime getting too hot is an issue.


The environment instantly surrounding your home is called microclimate. If your house is located on a bright southern slope, it may have a warm microclimate, even if you live in a cool area. Or, although you reside in a hot-humid region, your house might be positioned in a comfy microclimate since of plentiful shade and dry breezes. Neighboring bodies of water might increase your website’s humidity or decrease its air temperature.

Your home’s microclimate may be more warm, dubious, windy, calm, rainy, snowy, damp, or dry than average local conditions. These factors all assist identify what plants may or may not grow in your microclimate.

Siting and Style

A well-oriented and well-designed home allows low-angle winter sun, rejects overhead summer sun, and decreases the cooling effect of winter season winds. If you are constructing a house, focus on its orientation.

In the northern hemisphere, it is typically best to align the home’s long axis in an east-west instructions. The home’s longest wall with the a lot of window area ought to deal with south or southeast.

The home’s north-facing and west-facing walls need to have less windows because these walls normally face winter’s dominating winds. North-facing windows receive little direct sunshine.

You may have the ability to create and orient your new home to optimize your homesite’s natural advantages and reduce its drawbacks. Identify your homesite’s exposure to sun, wind, and water.

Likewise note the location and distance of neighboring buildings, fences, water bodies, trees, and pavement– and their possible climatic results. Buildings supply shade and windbreak.

Fences and walls block or direct the wind. Water bodies moderate temperature level but boost humidity and produce glare.

Trees supply shade, windbreaks, or wind channels. Pavement shows or takes in heat, depending on whether its color is light or dark.

If your home is currently constructed, inventory its convenience and energy problems, then utilize the following landscaping ideas to assist reduce these issues.


Solar heat going through windows and being taken in through the roof is the major reason for air-conditioner use. Shading is the most affordable way to lower solar heat gain and cut air-conditioning costs.

Using shade effectively requires you to understand the size, shape, and location of the moving shadow that your shading device casts. Bear in mind that homes in cool areas may never ever get too hot and may not require shading.

Trees can be picked with proper sizes, densities, and shapes for almost any shading application. To block solar heat in the summer but let much of it in throughout the winter season, usage deciduous trees. To supply constant shade or to obstruct heavy winds, use evergreen trees or shrubs.

Deciduous trees with high, spreading crowns (i.e., leaves and branches) can be planted to the south of your house to offer maximum summertime roofing system shading. Trees with crowns lower to the ground are more suitable to the west, where shade is required from lower afternoon sun angles. Trees needs to not be planted on the southern sides of solar- heated houses in cold environments due to the fact that the branches of these deciduous trees will block some winter season sun.

A 6-foot to 8-foot (1.8-meter to 2.4-meter) deciduous tree planted near your house will start shading windows the very first year. Depending upon the species and the home, the tree will shade the roof in 5 to 10 years. If you have an a/c unit, know that shading the unit can increase its effectiveness by as much as 10%.

Trees, shrubs, and ground cover plants can likewise shade the ground and pavement around the home. This lowers heat radiation and cools the air before it reaches your home’s walls and windows. Use a big bush or row of shrubs to shade a patio or driveway. Plant a hedge to shade a pathway. Build a trellis for climbing vines to shade a patio area.

Vines can shade walls throughout their very first growing season. A lattice or trellis with climbing up vines, or a planter box with trailing vines, shades the house’s border while confessing cooling breezes to the shaded area.

Shrubs planted near to your house will fill out rapidly and begin shading walls and windows within a few years. However, avoid permitting dense foliage to grow instantly next to a home where dampness or consistent humidity are issues. Well-landscaped houses in wet areas permit winds to stream around the home, keeping the house and its surrounding soil fairly dry.

Wind Protection

Effectively selected and positioned landscaping can offer outstanding wind protection, which will minimize heating costs substantially. In addition, these advantages will increase as the trees and shrubs grow. The best windbreaks obstruct wind close to the ground by utilizing trees and shrubs that have low crowns.

Evergreen trees and shrubs planted to the north and northwest of the home are the most common type of windbreak. Trees, bushes, and shrubs are typically planted together to block or restrain wind from ground level to the treetops. Or, evergreen trees combined with a wall, fence, or earth berm (natural or man-made walls or raised locations of soil) can deflect or raise the wind over the house.

Beware not to plant evergreens too near your house’s south side if you are relying on heat from the winter sun.

A windbreak will decrease wind speed for a distance of as much as 30 times the windbreak’s height. However for optimal defense, plant your windbreak at a distance from your home of 2 to five times the mature height of the trees.

If snow tends to wander in your location, plant low shrubs on the windward side of your windbreak. The shrubs will trap snow before it blows beside your home.

In addition to more distant windbreaks, planting shrubs, bushes, and vines next to your house creates dead air areas that insulate your house in both winter and summer. Plant so there will be at least 1 foot (30 centimeters) of area in between full-grown plants and your home’s wall.

Summer winds specifically at night can have a cooling impact if used for house ventilation. However, if winds are hot and your house is air conditioned all summer, you may wish to keep summertime winds from flowing near your home.

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