One of the most telltale signs that spring is here and summer is around the corner are the various landscaping projects taking place in neighborhoods across Michigan. Thoughtful landscaping beautifies your yard and can even add value to your home. But did you know the right landscaping can help you conserve energy all year long?
The U.S. Department of Energy offers a range of landscaping strategies to help cut your heating and cooling bills, reduce water use, and lower maintenance costs.
Landscaping for Shade
According to the DOE’s tips, planning landscaping to properly shade your home can reduce air conditioning costs by 15 – 50 percent because air temperature during the summer can be up to six degrees cooler in shaded areas.
Consider shading the south and west sides of your home with deciduous trees—since they lose their leaves, they’ll keep out the sun’s heat in the summer but still allow it to reach your home during the winter. If you plant the trees six to eight feet from your home, they’ll typically begin shading your home’s windows within a year and its roof within 5 – 10 years.
Landscaping for Windbreaks
Trees planted in the right areas of your yard can protect your home from cold winter winds and cut fuel consumption by an average of 40 percent. Try planting evergreen trees and shrubs to the north and northwest of your home at a distance of about two to five times the height of the mature tree for maximum efficacy. In addition to acting as a windbreak during winter, it creates dead air space that insulates your home year-round.
Call Before You Dig!
Your landscaping plans must also include knowing where underground utility lines are. That’s why you should always call MISS DIG at 811 and wait at least three business days until flags are raised by utility companies. Failing to do so can leave you subject to fines and—more importantly—could jeopardize your safety.
Staying safe and planning for energy efficiency when you landscape are great ways to enjoy the outdoors while lowering your energy costs. Most importantly, have fun!