Did you know that just three trees properly placed around a house can save up to 30% of energy use? This is according to the U.S. Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research. One study found that in Sacramento, Calif., trees planted on the south and west sides of houses reduced summertime electricity bills by an average of $25.
Trees provide many benefits to all of us, every day. They provide cooling shade, block cold winter winds, attract birds and wildlife, purify our air, prevent soil erosion, clean our water, and add grace and beauty to our homes and communities. In Chicago, the city's 3.6 million trees annually reduce air pollution by about 890 tons, a $6.4 million benefit per year, according to the Forest Service. And in Portland, Ore., street trees growing in front of or near a house added an average $8,870 to its sale price and reduced time on the market by nearly two days.
Planting the right trees in the right places conserves energy and reduces your energy bills, while helping to fight global warming. Try these tips for getting the most energy- and money-saving benefit from the trees you plant on your property. (Click on the photos below to watch animations illustrating the benefits of strategic tree planting.)
Deciduous trees (ones that lose their leaves), planted on the east and west sides, will keep your house cool in the summer and let the sun warm your home in the winter, reducing energy use, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Large deciduous trees planted on the east, west, and northwest sides of your home create soothing shade from the hot summer sun and reduce summer air conditioning costs by up to 35%.
Related: How to Plant Healthy Trees
Trees or shrubs planted to shade air conditioners help cool a building more efficiently, using less electricity. A unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10% less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.
And trees that shade patios, sidewalks, and driveways, cool the concrete, the entire yard, and even the neighborhood.
After the leaves fall, the sun pours through tree branches to warm your home in winter.
The sun travels lower on the southern horizon in winter, so youll want to avoid planting evergreen trees on the south side of your home where theyll block winter sunshine.
Instead, plant an evergreen conifer windbreak on the north and northwest of your home to block cold winter winds.
Planting a row of conifer trees on the north and northwest sides of your property creates a wall against cold winter windssaving your heating costs by up to 30%. Once again ...
The best protection from wind occurs when the windbreak is no more than the distance of one or two tree heights from the house.
The down-wind side of the trees is where the most snow accumulates, so plant your windbreak at a distance equal to one or two tree-heights from your rooftop and driveway if you can.
This article was produced for The Daily Green by the Arbor Day Foundation. Click on the photos for animations illustrating the benefits of the recommended tree-planting plans. Be sure to check out the latest Arbor Day Foundation Hardiness Zone Map to see what deciduous trees will best grow in your area and order trees for planting.
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