The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has published a helpful overview on the merits of planting trees to help conserve energy around your home.
Strategically placed trees can be as effective as other energy saving home improvements, such as insulation and the installation of weather-tight windows and doors. Trees help reduce your heating and cooling costs.
Trees save energy through cooling in the hotter months, and provide a wind break during winter. This results in burning less fossil fuels to generate electricity for cooling and heating.
Strategically placed shade trees – a minimum of three large trees around your home – can reduce air conditioning costs up to 30 percent. Shade trees offer their best benefits when you:
- Plant deciduous trees, which shed their leaves during the winter. These trees provide shade and block heat during hotter months and, by dropping their leaves in the fall, they admit sunlight in the colder months.
- Place these trees on the south and west sides of buildings.
- Shade all hard surfaces such as driveways, patios and sidewalks to minimize landscape heat load.
Use evergreens, which retain their leaves/needles yearlong, in a planned pattern. They will serve as windbreaks to save from 10 to 50 percent in energy used for heating. Evergreens offer the best benefits when you:
- Place them to intercept and slow winter winds, usually on the north side of your home.
- Do not plant them on the south or west side of your home, because this blocks warming sunlight during the winter. These trees also provide some shading benefits during summer.
Get professional assistance to assure correct selection of species and their placement to maximize energy savings.