Did you know that just three trees properly placed around a house can save up to 30% of energy use?

Staying cool can be a matter of life or death

photo1312383-1Summer’s here and that means picnics, pools and peaches but it also means HOT days.  Last week, my neighbor commented to me how grateful he was that they planted trees to shade the house.  Tom said, “the shade from our trees is physically and financially a life saver. And the savings from less air conditioning use is much appreciated.”

In fact, heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, resulting in hundreds of fatalities each year claiming more lives each year than floods, lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined. Last summer was the third hottest summer on record in the past 60 years and the forecast is for increasingly warmer, hotter and dryer summers.  One recent report predicts 150,000 additional heat-related deaths will occur in U.S. cities by 2100.

Trees reduce cooling costs

Since staying cool can literally be a matter of life or death, it makes sense that air conditioning use and and its associated costs will increase. The good news is that a cost-effective and easy way to reduce air conditioning costs is right in your back yard:  Trees can reduce cooling costs by 15-35%. When air conditioning is not an option, shade trees make our living environments more comfortable and bearable.

Did you know: One young healthy tree has the net cooling effect of 10 room-sized air conditioners, running for 20 hrs perday!

Utilities across the country are recognizing the valuable cost-saving benefits of shade trees. The Arbor Day Foundation is teaming up with utilities nationwide to provide consumers with “Energy-Saving Trees”– a new tool which uses Google Maps technology to allow homeowners to zoom into their home and easily figure out a strategic shade trees design for their specific property. (Currently usable for those in communities with participating utilities.)

Tip: To avoid winter shading, locate trees no closer than 2-1/2 times their mature height to the south of a building. Trees planted to the southeast or southwest should be about four times their mature height from the building.

Trees Reduce Heating Costs too

ScreenIf that wasn’t enough good news, in the winter, trees can provide shelter from winds and decrease heating costs by 10-30%. Deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves) planted on the east and west sides will keep your house cool in the summer and let the sun warm your home in the winter – reducing energy use year round. Evergreen trees (those that keep their leaves) make great wind-breaks from winter winds, so plant these on the north and northwest sides of your home.

Tip: Effective windbreak trees have crowns that extend to the ground and branches that keep their foliage in winter (evergreens). Junipers, spruces, firs, Douglas-fir, and evergreen shrubs are good choices for wind protection.

Between the decreased heating and cooling costs provided by trees, the energy costs savings can be treemendous! Proud of your cost savings from trees? Let us know how much your energy costs have been reduced due to your trees.

PS. Think trees will ruin your ability to benefit from solar?  See our recent post showing how  trees and solar power can co-exist to further your energy savings benefits.