The concept of your entire home as having an impact on your heating/cooling system’s efficiency and comfort is an important one. The purpose of this blog is to help you understand how every aspect of your home impacts the energy usage of your comfort system and the resulting comfort level in your home. This issue will focus on your exterior landscape surrounding your home and its impact.
You may have never thought about it, but you can use trees and shrubs to improve the efficiency of your comfort system. How can you do this? Maximize the warming effects of the sun in winter, maximize your use of shade in the summer and deflect winter winds away from your home.
Solar heat is absorbed through your home’s windows and roof. Shading your home with trees from summer sun can reduce air temperatures as much as 9 degrees helping to reduce your cooling costs. Shrubs and groundcover plants reduce heat radiation from the ground cooling the air before it reaches the walls and windows of your home. Vines are also a good source of shade on walls.
Providing shade for your air conditioner/heat pump can actually increase your system’s efficiency by as much as 10%! That is money in your pocket when the summer electrical rates take effect during the cooling season. Be careful not to plant bushes and shrubs so close to the unit that airflow is restricted – Leave a buffer of about one foot of clearance around the unit to allow for proper airflow. Remember, that is one foot of clearance as the plant continues to grow so plan ahead and leave enough space for the plant’s growth.
Proper landscaping can provide excellent wind protection as well which helps to reduce your heating costs in the winter. Winds can drastically lower the outdoor temperature forcing your heating system to work longer and harder. Shrubs, bushes and vines create a dead air space that actually insulates your home during both summer and winter protecting your home from the more extreme elements.
The types and location of trees, shrubs and bushes will all depend on your home’s structure and surroundings. Generally, north- and south-facing windows will provide good sunlight during the winter allowing for solar heating with minimal heat gain during the summer. East- and west-facing windows should be shaded to minimize the heat gain from the summer sun. A reputable landscaper like Goshen Enterprises can help you determine how exactly you should landscape around your home. You can contact them at 301-869-8544 or go to their web site at www.goshenenterprises.com. You can also visit http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumer and click on YOUR HOME then LANSCAPING for more information.