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Landscaping Can Cut Utility Bills

News | 12th Aug 2012

Bills Lowered by Plantings

While heating and cooling systems allow us to live in comfort inside our homes throughout the year, the cost of this can come as quite a shock when the utility bills arrive.  This is especially so in areas that suffer from temperature extremes.  Whether the difficulty is intensely cold winters or extremely hot summers, the costs of getting through these problem seasons can be a major household expense.  Proper plantings of trees and shrubs will not only improve a home’s appearance thereby adding to its value, it will also cut down on the costs of maintaining an equitable temperature within the home.

Rate only seem to rise in utility bills so people have resorted to lowering their thermostats in winter and raising them in summer.  To compensate, they add successive layers of clothing in winter and show more skin in summer.  This does lower energy usage, but it also reduces the comfort level and can pose dangers especially to young children and the elderly if it results in temperatures that are too cold or too hot.  These folks may also prove resistant to layering and taking off clothes.  A better solution that can provide the same level of savings can be had with thoughtful plantings of trees and shrubs around the house.

More Than Merely Shading

There are three main means for a house to lose or gain heat.  They are through infiltration of air, through conduction of heat, and through solar radiation.

Infiltration of air is responsible for between 20 and 30% of such energy losses.  A good way to substantially reduce this amount will be to set up windbreaks along the side of the house where prevailing winds occur.  In most places, the winds will usually blow from one direction though what direction this will be depends on where the home is located.  People are often aware of this, but if not, a call to any weather service such as found at television stations will inform the caller of which way the wind blows.  Planting evergreen trees and shrubs here can result in savings of 25% or more in heating costs.  If the space is available, the windbreaks should be set at five times the distance from the house that the plantings will attain when they reach maturity.

In summer, shading will significantly reduce the costs of keeping a house cool.  These will be most effective on the south and west sides of the home in all parts of the country.  These are the directions where solar radiation is most prevalent.  Such plantings provide particular benefit where they cast shade on glass surfaces of windows and sliding doors.  If sun shines directly on these surfaces, it will produce a greenhouse effect inside raising temperature levels considerably.

Landscaping will also cut down on heat conduction.  Planted areas can easily remain 25 or more degrees cooler in summer than will areas covered by pavement.  If these zones impede directly on the house, they will transmit some of their accumulated warmth into the house.


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