Conserving resources and using less energy has never been more popular than it is now. Of course, we all want to do our part to help improve the environment. Even more appealing, though, is the prospect of seeing the cost of those high energy bills drop appreciably. One means of reducing your energy consumption and lowering those bills is through intelligent landscaping. Benefits of landscaping include saving you a lot of money in the long run, as well as improve the value of your home.
What Does Landscaping Do?
A landscaping scheme specifically aimed at making your home more energy efficient will address a number of factors that influence residential energy use. If done correctly, landscaping can help reduce your summer and winter energy bills significantly. It can also protect your home from the elements, reducing damage from sun and wind that destroy your investment. An effective landscaping plan can also use less water and energy to maintain than your current setup.
Keeping Things Cool
During the hot summer months the ambient temperature of the areas surrounding your house make maintaining a cool temperature indoors a energy consuming task for your air conditioning unit. However, well-placed trees can dramatically reduce the air temperature around your house. They can also provide shade to block your windows from the direct rays of the sun.
Trees cool the surrounding air by a process called evapotranspiration. This is the process by which trees absorb and release moisture through their leaves. When coupled with the actual shade provided by the tree, the effects of evapotranspiration can often reduce the temperature in the immediate area of the tree by 9-10 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, just a few well-placed trees around a house can reduce summer cooling costs by as much as 25 percent.
Windbreaks and Insulation
During the winter strong, frigid winds can buffet a house causing property damage and sapping a home of heat. Correctly positioned trees, shrubs or fences can provide a barrier against this onslaught, shielding a home. When wind is blocked, temperatures surrounding the home begin to rise since the heated air is not being immediately whipped away by the cold winds. Shrubs around the home can also act as a layer of insulation, reducing further ambient energy loss. These two factors work together to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a home, often by as much as 40%.
As you can see, even very minimal landscaping aimed solely at reducing energy use without a focus on aesthetics, can provide a very distinct benefit to a homeowner. A few hundred dollars spent landscaping now can save an owner hundreds of dollars each year on his or her utility bills. As an added benefit, these simple improvements to the property dramatically increase the value of the home, and increase its marketability. A qualified landscaping professional can work with an owner to evaluate the property and determine the most energy efficient setup for that home.