Did you know that smart landscaping can save water, help reduce waste, and lower your summer energy bills? By strategically placing your trees, shrubs and other landscaping elements, you can help to block heat from reaching your home, which can keep your home cooler, decreasing cooling usage, and thus summer energy bills.
Here are some energy-efficient landscaping tips for a naturally cooler home and yard:
Shade Roof & Walls – Your roof gets the brunt of heat from the hot summer sun because it receives the most direct sunlight. That being said, tall shade trees can help to block this hot light and decrease the temperature of your roof. By significantly shading your roof, you can reduce your summer energy bill by as much as 20%. In our region, it is best to plant your shade trees on the south side of your home, so your home will be shaded from the late afternoon sun, which is the strongest. Broad-leaved deciduous trees are great shade trees for both winter and summer. Since these trees drop their leaves in winter, they not only provide great summer shade, but they allow for sun to hit the roof in winter, which can also create warming during the cold months, reducing energy bills year-round.
- Shield Windows – Have you ever sat in front of a window during a day with bright sun in a car or at home and felt significant heat, even with AC on? By placing trees where they shield your windows from direct sun (particularly the south and west side windows), you can reduce the heat penetration from heavy sun shining through your windows. Broad-leaved trees are great for this as well for the same reason as mentioned above.
- Create “Cool Islands” – Have you ever heard of evapotranspiration? This is the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from the soil and other surfaces by transpiration from plants. So, by strategically planting something referred to as “cool islands” (planting clumps of trees and shrubs) you can create a cooling effect through this process of evapotranspiration. The plants draw water from the ground and release it into the air, cooling the air. This naturally created cooling zone can then be distributed throughout the property by breezes.
- Shade AC Unit – Your outdoor AC unit can also heat up similarly to your home when in direct sunlight all day. Planting trees and shrubs close enough to the unit to provide shade, but not close enough to crowd the unit, can help it to function more efficiently.
- Build A Pergola – Building a shaded area like a pergola, especially on the west side of your home, is a great way to filter light. An open structure is ideal to allow for airflow and avoid trapping heat.
- Position Porches/Decks/Patios On East – This will make you and your guests very happy, because it will allow for comfortable morning warmth, while also avoiding sauna-like heat as the day progresses into late afternoon. Combine this with some shade trees, and you will have the ideal entertainment spot built for comfort even on the hottest days.
- Consider Your Ground Coverings – You may think that lighter stone or concrete is better for cooling because darker colors attract more sun, but it’s actually the opposite. Dark colors absorb heat, and lighter colors reflect heat. So, a darker ground may be hotter to the touch, but it is absorbing the heat instead of reflecting it, making for cooler surroundings.
- Create Your Own Wind Tunnel – Did you know that you can actually funnel breezes where you want them through your property by using rows of trees? For example, if you planted a row of trees on one side of your home with a wall on the other side of the house, you could create a wind tunnel, allowing for stronger cooling breezes throughout your entire property and around your home.
Not only does considering cooling landscape create an inviting and comfortable yard to entertain and relax in, but it can also save you money on your summer energy bills. Trees and plants help to cool the environment naturally, which allows for an effective way to reduce urban heat islands and reduce building heating and cooling costs.
By planting strategically and using the best trees for the job, you can create a beautiful and comfortable oasis, decrease your monthly bills, and be friendlier to the environment. Sounds like a win, win, win to us! Let Red Cedar help to purposefully plan your landscaping to benefit you, the environment, and your wallet. Contact us today for your free landscaping consultation to start sculpting your efficient landscape design!