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While we love home solar systems for saving money and reducing energy demand from the grid, it’s not the only way to lower the impact of your home and reduce your cost of living. Well-designed landscaping is one example of a potentially energy saving tactic for homeowners, but all too often, the default choice of landscaping is, well, default. But by establishing a well-designed landscape that is suited to the regional climate and local weather conditions, homeowners can end up saving money on home energy costs, reducing the amount of water use, buffering their home from noise and air pollution, and staying more comfortable inside and out of the house. Installing suitable energy saving landscaping as part of a home energy makeover can end up putting money back in your pocket, especially in conjunction with a solar energy system, because by reducing overall home energy demand, those solar panels will end up being much more effective in meeting your home’s energy needs. Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter. Derek Markham lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. Depends on how many panels you install but shading from panels is definitely a plus that is rarely quantified.
Trees and shrubs cool the air in their immediate vicinity during summer by transpiration, increasing their value. Another consideration that should be mentioned here is that moving trees or plant life from one part of the world (or even another part of a large country, such as the US,) to another can do more harm than good.
Shortly after WWII, new settlers to Tucson, Arizona, thought their cactus-laden yards should more like northern climate mountain areas they just moved away from. While these tree do provide welcome shade, their highly acidic needles negatively affect native plant life that happened to be growing under the their boughs. The only downside to having a mesquite on your property is that the tree sheds bean pods at the end of the summer. The American Renewable Energy Institute (AREI) brings together thought leaders and experts to foster climate change solutions. CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused news & analysis website in the US & the world, focusing primarily on electric cars, solar energy, wind energy, & energy storage. Homeowners can significantly reduce energy costs with energy conserving landscapes that are attractive and utilitarian. To prepare for energy saving landscaping, evaluate the existing landscaping by noting foundation plantings, trees and shrubs, and the direction the property faces. Add shrubs and ground covers around the foundation and trees and shrubs on the south side of a house to provide shading and cooling.


Keep the mature height of shrubs and trees in mind for proper placement and spacing so they aren’t too close to the house or planted too close together for healthy growth and easy maintenance.
Groundcovers and dense evergreens reduce reflected heat in summer and shield the house from wind in winter as well as having an insulating effect.
Trees and shrubs planted for windbreaks reduce wind velocity and prevent strong, cold winds from hitting a house full force.
There are number of other energy saving solutions, both solar and non-solar, that fall under the scope of home improvement projects, but sometimes, it’s the most down-to-earth strategies that can end up putting money back in your pocket. The landscaping design of an older home is inherited with the house, and is probably based on archaic notions of beauty and meant to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood when it was built.
According to Energy.gov, a smart landscape design can reduce a home’s air conditioning costs by as much as 50%, planting windbreaks on three sides of a house can cut fuel consumption by 40%, and well-designed landscaping can pay for itself in less than 8 years. We’ve got any number of invasive plant species here in the desert southwest US that were brought here with good intentions, but have proven to be troublesome. One type of evergreen tree they brought here for that effect was the salt cedar, or tamarisk . But there are numerous post WWII neighborhoods in Tucson where you can find these trees in their mature state in proximity, indicating that a fair amount of purposeful planting occurred here during those years. It is part of Important Media -- a network of 20 progressive blogs working to make the world a better, greener place. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sustainable Enterprises Media, Inc., its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries. Add dense evergreens in areas that are totally open and susceptible to strong, cold winds, especially the north and west sides of the house.
Be careful with fruit tree placement so that dropped fruit doesn’t pose a maintenance problem. Deciduous trees provide shade in the summer while allowing the winter sun to heat the roof.
Planted on arbors or trained on trellises or walls, deciduous and woody vines used in creative ways provide shade when there isn’t room for trees or when additional shading is desired.
Groundcover and evergreen plantings make attractive foundation plantings and, when native and drought-tolerant plants are used, will conserve water as well.
Plant windbreaks provide more flexibility than solid windbreaks such as solid fencing or walls because they allow some airflow, even through dense foliage.


And many new homes come with a bare-bones “default” landscape, which isn’t usually designed and installed with an eye toward saving energy and reducing utility bills, and is usually one of the last things people consider when looking at buying a home. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, RebelMouse, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!
The dried bean pods, if you take the time to harvest them, can be ground into mesquite flour, which is both tasty and good for you . Department of Energy reports that effectively positioned trees can result in 25 percent energy savings for typical households. The U.S Department of Energy has determined that three trees on the south side of a house provide sufficient shade in summer and windbreak in winter to impact heating and cooling costs.
Keep in mind that evergreens aren’t the best choice for shade and can block winter sun from warming the roof and foundation. Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension suggests large trees such as maples, honey locust, linden, and oak trees, and small trees such as redbuds, dogwoods, and Japanese maples. Good vines for landscape shading include wisteria, ivy (Boston ivy, not evergreen ivy), clematis, grape, and honeysuckle.
Having lived in several Tucson houses over the past couple of decades with tamarisks on the property or nearby, I can only describe the experience akin to living next to a 60 foot tall dandelion. Selective landscape planting keeps direct sun off the building, prevents heating up the interior in hot summers, and reduces wind velocity that affects heating costs in cold winters.
A landscape company can quickly add trees and shrubs or you can do it yourself by renting a tractor and other equipment. When the tree finally does die and needs to be removed, it is always an expensive and tedious process. To achieve effective cost savings with landscaping, you need careful planning and strategy.



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