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Plant 3 Trees And Cut Your Energy Bills by $250/Year

January 06, 2015

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 3 properly placed trees can save a household an average of $100 to $250 each year!

But you can’t just go pick any 3 trees and plant them anywhere in your yard. You have to know what you’re doing.

For Florida, The U.S. Department of Energyrecommends planning your landscape so that it:

  • Channels summer breezes toward the home
  • Maximizes summer shade but still allows penetration of low-angle winter sun

Here’s what that means and how to do it.

Channel summer breezes toward the home

Why it works: We don’t hear much about wind-chill in Southwest Florida, but it still exists. When a cool breeze blows across your skin in summer and cools you off, that’s wind-chill.

Well, your home experiences this same phenomenon. A breeze helps it cool off. And you can take advantage of that natural cooling to reduce energy bills.

Where to plant the trees: The summer breeze in Southwest Florida comes from the northeast. So you want to leave an open area on the northeastern side of your property that allows the wind to easily reach your home.

For maximum effect, and if you have the space, you can also use a V-shaped configuration of trees and other vegetation to actually channel the breeze to your home.

This funnel will actually increase the speed of the wind that reaches your home, helping it cool off more quickly and saving you money.

(For you science people, this is known as the venturi effect.)

What kinds of trees to plant: You want shorter, denser vegetation that is closer to the ground to funnel the wind to your home.

Some small, dense trees that grow well in Southwest Florida are:Loquat East palatka holly Southern red cedar Wax myrtle American hornbeam

This funnel will actually increase the speed of the wind that reaches your home, helping it cool off more quickly and saving you money.

(For you science people, this is known as the venturi effect.)

What kinds of trees to plant: You want shorter, denser vegetation that is closer to the ground to funnel the wind to your home.

Some small, dense trees that grow well in Southwest Florida are:Loquat East palatka holly Southern red cedar Wax myrtle American hornbeam

Maximize summer shade with trees that still allow penetration of low-angle winter sun

Why it works: Shading your home with large trees reduces the amount of solar heat that makes its way into your home in the summer.

In addition, trees have a natural cooling effect (called evapotranspiration) that can reduce surrounding air temperatures as much as 9˚F.

However, you want to also allow the low (morning and evening) sun to warm your home in the winter for those very few chilly nights and mornings we get in Southwest Florida.

Where to plant the trees: Keeping in mind that the sun is more southerly in the winter, plant shade trees all along the north side of your property (remembering to leave the northeastern side open).

Trees on the southern side can also help shade your home. Just make sure you leave the southeastern and southwestern sides open to the winter sun.

What kinds of trees to plant: Anything that grows tall enough to offer shade for your home’s roof is ideal.

Here are a few great shade trees for Southwest Florida-area homes:

  • Southern magnolia
  • Sycamore
  • Laurel oak
  • Live oak
  • Green ash

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