Conservation Tip: Plant some trees and save on your heating and cooling costs.
In this era of tight budgets and conservation awareness, homeowners are looking for “green” ways to save on your heating expenses and lower their home heating oil bill. Did you know the simple act of planting a tree can save you money in energy costs? Planting the right tree in the right place is the key to saving energy with trees. When done the properly, the right trees will provide both winter wind protection and cooling summer shade, while maximizing the temperature efficiency inside your home. At the same time, planting trees can add beauty, privacy, and enhanced wildlife habitat.
What is the right tree in the right place?
There are two things to consider. The kind of tree you select and where you plant it. Both are important to your conservation efforts. You’re also going to want to be aware of some other things such conflicts with power lines and other obstructions, of course.
Let’s start with deciduous trees, trees that lose all of their leaves each fall. They will save energy in summer by shading your home, paved areas that hold heat, and air conditioning units. Small deciduous trees and shrubs, and especially those with low, dense branches, also can serve as effective wind barriers. In the winter, when they lose their leaves, they allow warming sunlight to reach your southern exposures which can stretch the time between oil tanks fills.
On the other hand, large and small evergreen trees and shrubs save energy by slowing or diverting cold winds in the winter. They also provide summer shade, but since they often have branches nearer to the ground, their shade is most effective when the sun is not directly overhead.
Where to plant them
…For summer shade
Shade from trees can reduce your summer air conditioning needs and make a non-air conditioned home more comfortable. You will want to plant deciduous trees so they will shade east-facing walls and windows from 7 to 11 a.m. and west-facing surfaces from 3 to 7 p.m. in the summer. Trees with mature heights of at least 25 feet should be planted 10 to 20 feet east and west of the house. You’ll want to plant the smaller deciduous or evergreen trees with lower limbs northwest and northeast of your home to provide late afternoon and early morning shade.
To avoid winter shading, plant trees no closer than 2-1/2 times their mature height to the south of a building. Trees planted to the southeast or southwest should be about four times their mature height from the building.
…For winter windbreaks
Trees can also be used reduce the amount of home heating oil you use by blocking cold winter winds. These winds will enter your home through any small cracks and openings, and just as importantly, carry heat away from the building’s outer surfaces. So for a windbreak, you want to use evergreen trees that extend to the ground and branches that keep their foliage in winter. Junipers, spruces, firs, Douglas-fir, and evergreen shrubs are good choices for wind protection. You’re going to want to plant them upwind of the area to be protected. This will often mean planting on the west, northwest, and north sides of a building. But geographical structures (mountains, valleys, etc.) can have an effect on this. So be sure to check out your specific conditions first, to find out the direction of your prevailing winter winds.
Now that you know where your deciduous and evergreen trees should be, take a look around your property. You may discover removing some trees could help your energy bills as well.
Tevis Energy, your trusted Baltimore area home heating oil supplier, saves you money with affordable heating oil prices every day, day-in and day-out. Check out our automatic heating oil delivery plan for even more savings. Our final conservation tip will focus on your heating oil tank maintenance. Just in time for the heating season to begin.
Now, go plant a tree!