There are a myriad of things you can do inside your home to make it more energy efficient. However, few consider their home’s landscaping as yet another tool they can use to make their homes more energy efficient. See below for tips on what you can do to reduce the cost of energy on your wallet and the environment.
Before you begin choosing which plants to use in your yard, consider the placement of your A/C unit, existing vegetation and the angle of the sun in relation to where your house sits. In fact, it’s a good idea to create a bird’s eye view of your home on paper before deciding what to plant.
Planting trees or large shrubs on the east and west of your home is a great way to reduce heat from the morning and afternoon sun. Additionally, planting trees near driveways and walkways can greatly reduce the amount of ambient heat around your home. Depending on the type of trees you choose, the Energy Department says that just three strategically placed trees in your yard can save the average family household $100-$200 a year in energy costs. Especially during the spring and summer, trees have been proven to reduce temperatures by between 20 to 45 degrees!
Some things to consider when choosing trees are the size of the tree upon maturity, whether they keep their leaves all year round, whether your soil is well or poorly-drained and the overall hardiness of the tree. Also be sure to check for how much sunlight different trees need to thrive. Ideally, in this situation you want trees that require morning sun on the east side of your home and trees that require afternoon sun on the west side of your home.
The size of the tree upon maturity must not be overlooked. Consider how many feet away the trees need to be from your home and any utility lines surrounding your home.
Great deciduous trees (that is, trees that lose their foliage during the winter) for landscaping in Ohio include oak, alder, sycamore, hazelnut and walnut trees. If you don’t want to wait long before you have a full tree (or have to pay for a large tree to get faster results), choose a fast growing tree for northeast Ohio like the red maple.
Evergreens are particularly useful during the winter time because they don’t lose their foliage in the winter. In this way, evergreens are perfect for creating a windbreak to protect your home from cold winter winds.
Trees that require well-drained soil in Ohio include Japanese Lilac, Crab-Apple and Witch Hazel. If you have poorly drained soil, check for those that do well in these areas. In fact, the trees you choose for particularly soggy areas will help soak up the extra moisture.
Another part of your home to consider aside from windows is your A/C unit. To prevent your unit from working harder than it needs to, create more shade with a few well-placed shrubs. When planting, make sure you’re mindful of the airflow plants require and whether the shrubs will eventually grow into the unit or not.
A couple of less common but excellent landscaping projects to eliminate excess energy costs are installing a green roof or creating green walls. Green roofs are essentially sod placed on the roof of a home. Additional benefits of having a green roof include absorbing excess rainfall and extending the life of your roof by protecting it from the elements. Green walls are nothing more than carefully planned trellis walls placed up against the exterior walls of your home for climbing plants. These “green walls” can reduce ambient temperature by up to 10 degrees. And, according to the EPA, installing a green roof on a 2 to 3 story home can provide upwards of 15-25 percent in energy costs during the summer.
Landscaping is too often overlooked when it comes to methods of reducing your home’s energy use and costs. With spring well underway and summer right around the corner, now is the perfect time to get started! Your wallet (and the environment) will thank you.