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Tips to save money and energy

When it comes to reducing your energy consumption, you do not always have to spend a lot of money to save a lot of money. Follow these simple energy saving steps from the Department of Energy and you will be on your way to saving energy and putting some money back in your pocket.

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For more information, visit the Department of Energy’s original blog post for this infographic.

 

 

Landscaping for Energy Savings

Tips to help you save energy and improve comfort

Guest writer Michelle Andersen is the Design Director for Flourish Landscape and Interior Design.

Properly insulating and air sealing your home will improve your overall comfort and reduce your energy usage. However, even after these improvements, your home likely remains exposed to the impacts of the sun and wind. A well planned landscape design can enhance the curb appeal of your home and provide energy saving benefits.

Here are some of my top landscaping tips that can help you improve the savings and comfort of your home year-round.

  1. Screen areas that have high wind exposure with evergreen trees to protect your home from heat loss. For smaller urban yards a columnar arborvitae or juniper screen in a zigzag line works well. I place them in a zigzag for a more natural look. If you have more space, try Spruce or Spring Grove Arborvitae.
  2. Plant a deciduous tree to shade parts of your home that get hot from sun exposure. While the leaves on the trees will block the summer sun, the winter sun will be allowed to warm the home after the leaves drop. Choose a tree that has a full canopy such as a Maple and find out how tall it will grow – there are Maple cultivars that will stay as small as 25’ tall that work well for small yards. Be sure to place the tree at least that far from the foundation of your home. For narrow spaces try the Franz Fontaine Hornbeam in a row of 3 or 5.
  3. Tree lined streets create a microclimate that cools neighborhoods and can lower your cooling needs by as much as 20%. Check with your municipality to see what street tree programs they have. The City of Cincinnati’s Releaf program provides a free tree for homeowners in the fall that they can plant in their front yard. Sometimes you can request a tree or pay to have one planted in your tree lawn, the strip between the sidewalk and the road. For those without a tree lawn, consider planting trees on your own and encourage the neighbors to do the same for and added bonus of increased property value.
  4. Lawns are a beautiful and conventional way to keep a low maintenance landscape, but they don’t have many environmentally friendly qualities. Transform portions of your lawn into landscape beds that contain a small native tree such as a Serviceberry, Dogwood, or Redbud to create a cooling effect in the summer as well as reduce the mowing needed.
  5. Hardscaping can attract and hold heat from the sun. Patios, driveways, and any other hard surface made of concrete, stone, asphalt, or pavers can improve your property value, but they also attract and hold heat from the sun. Shade hardscape surfaces with trees or a roof structure or choose a light color surface. This will also make these spaces more enjoyable and usable during our hottest days.

Properly designing your landscape can greatly enhance the way you function in your outdoor space and provide energy saving benefits. Try implementing some of these tips on your own or consult with a landscaper or designer for a more professional approach.

For information on consultations and design plans contact Michelle at michelle@flourishcincinnati.com or 859-815-0068.

Energy Tip: Registers and Radiators

Don’t forget your three Rs: Registers, Radiators, and ARithmetic! Every small measure you implement at home adds up in savings.

If you have forced air, check to make sure (or have a professional check) that the connections of your vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling. These points are common trouble spots where leaks and disconnected ductwork are found. Keep your vents clear of furniture or rugs to improve air flow and comfort.

If your home has radiators, you can place heat-resistant reflectors between the radiator and wall to help direct heat into the room, not into the wall.

This month’s tip brought to you by EnergyStar.gov.