POV: Your Landscape Affects your Home Energy Consumption

Foundation plantings also help reduce heat loss from the walls of the home by creating a dead air space against the structure. Evergreen shrubs in particular are very effective in diverting wind and protecting the foundation. The most effective insulating affect comes from a continuous planting along the entire foundation. Rhododendron, holly, yews, junipers, and assorted dwarf conifers are all acceptable plant materials. Deciduous plants are also helpful, especially those woody plants that are not cut back until spring. This insulating affect is desirable in the summer months as well.

Summer cooling can be achieved by the selection and placement of medium to large deciduous trees on the south and southwest side of the home. To provide shade to the roof of a single story home a large tree can be placed 20 feet from the house. Medium sized trees can be placed up to 15 feet from the home. The leaves will intercept the sunrays and provide shade in the summer and the leafless branches will allow the warmth of the sun to penetrate in the winter.

Using trees to shade paved surfaces such as driveways also reduce temperatures around the home. The evaporative cooling effect of the water vapor passing through the leaves of the tree can reduce temperatures under the tree up to 9 degrees Fahrenheit. Shade trees not only enhance the beauty of the landscape they can provide comfort and reduce energy consumption. For more information about selecting plants for your particular location, contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office.

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