We spend most of our time focusing on all the little (and big things) we can do inside the home to be more energy efficient. This month, we are taking a look outside the home. Landscaping can have a huge effect on your home’s heating and cooling needs (and water needs, come to think of it).Because we live in a classified cool/temperate region, we should be making landscaping choices both for our hot and humid summers and cold, windy winters. If your home is within a microclimate and experiences extremes atypical for our region, take those conditions into consideration with planting for shade and or windbreaks.
3 Ways to Landscape for Efficiency
- Create Shade: Shade south and west facing windows and walls from direct summer sun with deciduous trees if overheating is a problem.
- Winter Sun: Allow the winter sun to reach southward facing windows and walls.
- Create Windbreaks: In the winter, the windbreak should deflect winter winds away from the house with trees on the north and northwest side of the house. Dense evergreens work well for this. Ideally in the summer, breezes can be tunneled toward the house. Windbreaks have many additional benefits:
- Reduce heating and cooling costs by 25% or more by lowering approaching wind velocities by up to 90%.
- Alleviate hot summer days by acting like air conditioners as trees transpire.
- Protect the home from windstorms and prevent large snow drifts and run off.
- Beautify the landscape and attract game and songbirds and other wildlife.
- Increase growth and qualityof growing plants and trees by lowering evaporation rates.