When you hear about enhancements to your property that can cut energy bills, do you think of installing solar panels or other extensive renovations? Of course, those are legitimate and effective ways to cut your energy bills. But simply planting trees can provide a beautiful means by which to decrease your energy use. Here is how trees can help your energy bills, and directions on how to do it.
Trees Provide Shade and Shelter
In the summer, direct sunlight can really heat up your home, encouraging you to turn your air conditioning thermostat down. Trees provide much-needed shade and can offset the heating effects of the sun. In the winter, you can still enjoy the benefits of the warming sunlight because the leaves will be off the trees.
Trees can provide shelter as windbreaks, which help keep your home warm in the winter. Evergreens are especially effective.
Here are the basic steps to planting trees to conserve energy. Keep in mind that early spring or fall are the best times for tree planting.
1. Choose the spot
- Make sure you check for utility lines/pipes below and power lines above.
- You won’t need shade on the north side of your house. How much shade you need depends, of course, on where your house gets the most and hottest sun.
2. Choose the tree
- If you live in a temperate climate, choose a deciduous tree if you want the sun to warm your home in the winter. Choose an evergreen if you want shade in the summer and an effective windbreak in the winter. A compromise would be a fairly short, densely-branched tree that would provide a windbreak in the winter even without leaves.
- Consider the tree’s height at maturity when planting.
- Check with your local extension office to find out what trees are good for your area.
3. Dig a hole
- Make the hole deep enough to cover the root ball, and wide enough to allow soil to be placed around it.
- Add some compost or potting soil to the hole, working it into the sides and bottom of the hole and loosening the soil.
4. Place the tree into the hole and fill it with soil.
- Be sure to pack the soil in tightly, so it will support the tree.
5. Water the tree thoroughly.
- Continue to water regularly, until the roots take hold and the tree is able to draw it’s own water from deep in the ground.