Believe it or not, cooler weather is coming, and it’s a good time to start thinking about doing a little landscaping. What does your landscaping have to do with your heating and cooling? Well, most people don’t know that the way that their yard is landscaped can affect their energy bills. It’s a fact–a smart, energy-efficient landscape plan can save you money each month on your cooling costs, and one that is not-so-smart can cost you.
So, if you want to reduce your energy bills, one of the most effective ways to do it is through your landscaping. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the proper placement of just 3 trees will save the average homeowner up to 25% per year in energy costs!
Why? When you have an energy-efficient landscape design, you’re helping your cooling system work more efficiently. If you want to get potentially significant savings on your energy costs, we have some suggestions.
The first thing to consider when installing an energy efficient landscape is your climate zone. Here in Southwest Florida, we live in a hot-humid zone, which requires a landscaping plan aimed at keeping your home cool naturally. Anyone who has spent time in a park or wooded area can tell you that the temperature in these places is noticeably cooler than in areas without shade or covered with asphalt. Your landscaping can do the same thing for your home.
When choosing plantings, consider your microclimate as well. The climate immediately surrounding your home is called its microclimate. Your home’s microclimate may receive more sun, shade, wind, rain, moisture, and/or dryness than average local conditions. Even though you live in a hot-humid region, your home may be situated in a comfortable microclimate because of abundant shade and dry breezes. Nearby bodies of water may increase your site’s humidity or decrease its air temperature.
So, what are the main elements of energy-efficient landscape design?
Shade- The area around trees is cooler for a reason. Trees not only provide shade from the sun, they also move and release water vapor in a process called evapotranspiration. Shading your yard with climate-appropriate trees can lower the air temperature around your home by 9 degrees. Energy efficient placement of your trees channels breezes toward your home in summer and maximizes shade during the hottest summer days.
Remember, it’s a good idea to plant trees or shrubs around your outdoor A/C unit. Providing shade for your air conditioner can save you as much as 10% on its operating costs.
Wind Control- Unlike some areas of the country where windbreaks are desirable, here in Florida good ventilation is necessary in order to keep your home cool and reduce humidity. So, you may want to encourage wind movement in your yard. We can help you plan out a landscape that will channel cooling breezes toward windows and allow for adequate air circulation around the home. Smart wind control can help keep your air conditioning from working harder than necessary.
An energy efficient landscape pays for itself in energy savings within about 8 years, and can reduce air conditioning costs by 15-50% depending on other factors. So, if you’re looking for ways to save money on energy costs, consider ways that you can improve your landscaping for energy-efficiency.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about landscaping to save money and other HVAC topics, click here to download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.