Landscaping for a more energy-efficient home
Story courtesy of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative
It’s no secret smart decisions about your home can save big dollars on your power bill. However, homeowners who already have blackout curtains and Energy Star appliances may wonder what other steps they can take to boost their energy efficiency. The next frontier of power savings may very well be outside.
Trees and shrubs are not only beautiful additions to the yard that can boost curb appeal, but they can also provide a smart way to protect your home from the elements. In fact, the average home can save up to 25% on energy bills with a bit of forward-thinking landscaping.
As homeowners, land developers and even business owners look to save money and conserve precious power, well-engineered landscaping features like the examples below will continue to provide opportunities for increased efficiencies.
THE BIG PICTURE
The continental United States has four distinct climate zones: cool, temperate, hot-humid and hot-arid. Virginia, Delaware and Maryland are all in the temperate climate zone, with seasonal changes that need consideration when landscaping for energy efficiency.
To fight the harsh winds of winter, consider planting windbreaks — thick shrubs and trees — on the north and northwest sides of your home. This will provide protection from those bitter wind chills that can make outdoor conditions feel 20 degrees colder than the thermometer indicates.
Another step you can take is to increase your home’s ability to retain heat in the winter months by keeping windows in full view of the sun. Plan for the seasonal differences by planting trees that will be lush and green in spring and summer but bare during the cooler months.
In the summer, be sure to make the wind work for you, not against you. Wind tunnels can easily be made by planting thick shrubs perpendicular to the flow of air. If done properly, this will redirect summer breezes toward your home and provide a natural relief to your air conditioner.
Trees and shrubs can provide a smart way to protect your home from the elements.
You can also take steps to maximize summertime shade around windows, meaning leafy trees and tall shrubs. Additionally, consider placing air conditioning units in a location where they’ll be shaded during the hottest part of the day. This can increase the efficiency of most air conditioning units by as much as 10%.
YOUR OWN LITTLE WORLD
While no solutions are one-size-fits-all, taking these steps can help you not only make your home more energy efficient but also more comfortable during the hottest and coldest months. Strategic use of shading and windbreaks can even make your yard more inviting, leading to additional energy savings any time you turn off the electronics to enjoy some time on the patio.