Planting trees and shrubs can save on your energy bills
We plant trees, shrubs and vines around our house for a variety of reasons. They’re enjoyable to look at, and some provide an added benefit, such as fruits and nuts. Another often-overlooked benefit is how landscaping can help cut energy costs.
Understanding how heat from the sun and wind affects your home can be useful in making decisions with tree and plant placement. Well-placed trees and vines can shade your house from the blazing sun, and positioning certain trees and shrubs can provide a buffer from bone-chilling winds. Wind is also a source of pressure that forces outside air into your home, which can move “paid-for” air out, wasting energy and reducing comfort.
Generally, what you plant and where you plant depends on where you live in Oregon:
- If you live west of the Cascades, plant deciduous trees on the south side of your home. This will shade the house in the summer, but when the leaves drop off in the fall, it will allow the winter sun to warm your abode. On the north and northwest side of your home, plant evergreen trees and shrubs to act as a wind break.
- East of the Cascades, energy landscaping is even more important due to more extreme temperatures. We recommend if you live in this area you plant deciduous trees on the south and southwest side of your home. In this vast region, wind comes from different directions. Consider planting a dense row of evergreen shrubs to blunt those bitter air currents. Your county’s Oregon State University Extension office can offer recommendations for your region and advice on making sure that even with energy-saving landscaping, you have defensible space if you’re in an area prone to wildfires.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, depending on your situation, proper landscaping could save you up to 25 percent on energy costs!
- Check out this infographic from the U.S. Department of Energy
- Call your county’s Oregon State University Extension Service
- Contact a nonprofit, such as Friends of Trees in Portland