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Gardening) Landscaping for Energy Efficiency

Gardening) Landscaping for Energy Efficiency

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Published by: Daniel Patrick Gagnon on Sep 16, 2010
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09/15/2010

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Are you looking for cost-effective yeteye-pleasing ways to lower your energybills? Planting trees, shrubs, vines, grasses,and hedges could be the answer. In fact,landscaping may be your best long-terminvestment for reducing heating andcooling costs, while also bringing otherimprovements to your community.Awell-designed landscape will:Cut your summer and winter energycosts dramatically.Protect your home from winter windand summer sun.Reduce consumption of water, pesti-cides, and fuel for landscaping andlawn maintenance.Help control noise and air pollution.This publication covers landscaping tipsto save money year-round; ways that land-scapinghelps the environment; importantclimate, site, and design considerations;landscape planning; and tree and shrubselection. You can getadditional informationon regionally appropriatespecies from your localnursery and landscapingexperts.
Landscaping SavesMoney Year-Round
Carefully positionedtrees can save up to 25%of a household’s energyconsumption for heatingand cooling. Computermodels devised by theU.S. Department of Energy predict that theproper placement of onlythree trees will save anaverage householdbetween $100 and $250in energy costs annually.On average, a well-designed landscape pro-vides enough energysavings to return yourinitial investment in lessthan 8 years. An 8-foot(2.4-meter) deciduous
Landscaping forEnergy Efficiency
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Mature deciduous trees provide shade in the summer and sunlightfiltration in the winter.
This document was produced for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a DOE national laboratory.The document was produced by the Technical Information Program, under the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The Energy Efficiencyand Renewable Energy Clearinghouse (EREC) is operated by NCI Information Systems, Inc., for NREL/ DOE. The statements contained herein are based oninformation known to EREC and NRELat the time of printing. No recommendation or endorsement of any product or service is implied if mentioned by EREC.
Printed with a renewable-source ink on paper containing at least 50% wastepaper, including 20% postconsumer waste
DOE/GO-10095-046FS 220April 1995
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(leaf-shedding) tree, for example, costsabout as much as an awning for one largewindow and can ultimately save yourhousehold hundreds of dollars in reducedcooling costs, yet still admit some wintersunshine to reduce heating and lightingcosts. Landscaping can save you money insummer or winter.
Summer 
You may have noticed the coolness of parks and wooded areas compared to thetemperature of nearby city streets. Shad-ing and evapotranspiration (the processby which a plant actively moves andreleases water vapor) from trees canreduce surrounding air temperatures asmuch as 9˚F (5˚C). Because cool air settlesnear the ground, air temperatures directlyunder trees can be as much as 25˚F (14˚C)cooler than air temperatures above nearbyblacktop. Studies by the Lawrence Berke-ley Laboratory found summer daytime airtemperatures to be 3˚F to 6˚F (2˚C to 3˚C)cooler in tree-shaded neighborhoods thanin treeless areas.Awell-planned landscape can reduce anunshaded home’s summer air-conditioningcosts by 15% to 50%. One Pennsylvaniastudy reported air-conditioning savings of as much as 75% for small mobile homes.
Winter 
You may be familiar with wind chill. If the outside temperature is 10˚F (-12˚C)and the wind speed is 20 miles per hour(32 kilometers per hour), the wind chill is-24˚F (-31˚C). Trees, fences, or geographicalfeatures can be used as windbreaks toshield your house from the wind.Astudy in South Dakota found that wind-breaks to the north, west, and east of houses cut fuel consumption by an aver-age of 40%. Houses with windbreaksplaced only on the windward side (theside from which the wind is coming) aver-aged 25% less fuel consumption than simi-lar but unprotected homes. If you live in awindy climate, your well-planned land-scape can reduce your winter heating billsby approximately one-third.
Landscaping for aCleaner Environment
Widespread tree planting and climate-appropriate landscaping offer substantialenvironmental benefits. Trees and vegeta-tion control erosion, protect water sup-plies, provide food, create habitat forwildlife, and clean the air by absorbingcarbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.The National Academy of Sciences (NAS)estimates that urban America has 100 mil-lion potential “tree spaces” (i.e., spaceswhere trees could be planted). NAS fur-ther estimates that filling these spaceswith trees and lightening the color of dark,urban surfaces would result in annualenergy savings of 50 billion kilowatt-hours—25% of the 200 billion kilowatt-hours consumed every year by airconditioners in the United States. Thiswould reduce electric power plant emis-sions of carbon dioxide by 35 milliontons (32 million metric tons) annually andsave users of utility-supplied electricity$3.5 billion each year (assuming an aver-age of $0.07 per kilowatt-hour).Also, some species of trees, bushes, andgrasses require less water than others.Some species are naturally more resistantto pests, so they require less pesticides.Another alternative to pesticides is
inte-grated pest management,
an emerging fieldthat uses least-toxic pest control strategies.One example is to introduce certaininsects such as praying mantises or lady-bugs to feed on—and limit populationsof—landscape-consuming pests.Certain grasses, such as buffalo grass andfescue, only grow to a certain height—roughly 6 inches (15 centimeters) and arewater thrifty. By using these species, youcan eliminate the fuel, water, and timeconsumption associated with lawn mow-ing, watering, and trimming. Also, recentstudies have found that gasoline-poweredmowers, edge trimmers, and leaf blowerscontribute to air pollution.
2
 Landscaping may be your best long-terminvestment for reducing heating and cooling costs.
 
Climate, Site, andDesign Considerations
Climate
The United States can be divided intofour approximate climatic regions: tem-perate, hot-arid, hot-humid, and cool. Theenergy-conserving landscape strategiesyou use should depend on which regionyou live in. These landscaping strategiesare listed by region and in order of impor-tance below.
Temperate
Maximize warming effects of the sun inthe winter.Maximize shade during the summer,Deflect winter winds away frombuildings.Funnel summer breezes toward thehome.
Hot-Arid
Provide shade to cool roofs, walls, andwindows.Cool the air around the home by plantevapotranspiration.Allow summer winds to access natu-rally cooled homes.Block or deflect winds away from air-conditioned homes.
Hot-Humid
Channel summer breezes toward thehome.Maximize summer shade with trees thatstill allow penetration of low-angle win-ter sun.Avoid locating planting beds close to thehome if they require frequent watering.
Cool
Use dense windbreaks to protect thehome from cold winter winds.Allow the winter sun to reach south-facing windows.Shade south and west windows andwalls from the direct summer sun, if summer overheating is a problem.
 Microclimate
The climate immediately surroundingyour home is called its microclimate. If your home is located on a sunny southernslope, it may have a warm microclimate,even if you live in a cool region. Or, eventhough you live in a hot-humid region,your home may be situated in a comfort-able microclimatebecause of abundantshade and drybreezes. Nearby bod-ies of water mayincrease your site’shumidity or decreaseits air temperature.Your home’s micro-climate may be moresunny, shady, windy,calm, rainy, snowy,moist, or dry thanaverage local condi-tions. These factorsall help determinewhat plants may ormay not grow inyour microclimate.
3
Carefully positioned trees can save up to25% of a household’senergy consumption for heating and cooling.
Hot-HumidHot-HumidHot-AridTemperateCoolCoolCool
The climatic region in which you live affects the landscaping strategies you use.
BA-A124001

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