I am a member of Project Envolve, which is sponsored by PPL Electric Utilities. I received compensation in exchange for my tips on energy-efficient landscaping and other ways to lower your electric bill. All opinions are my own. #ProjectEnvolve #GetEnvolved
It’s prime time for spring cleaning! While your closets and baseboards are probably in need of some help, you may want to focus some of your energy outdoors, too. Making a separate seasonal to-do list for your landscaping can go far in affecting the temperature of your home during the warmer months and – yes – a carefully designed landscape can even lower your electric bill!
When planning your landscaping projects to help affect your home’s temperature in the spring and summer, it’s important to consider your climate zone. As many places in the US are heading into warmer weather, the cost cooling the home’s interior is something most of us are thinking about. One way to cool the interior is to work on effectively cooling the exterior, and that can be done through careful planning and planting.
Here in PA, I live in a cool region. The top three landscaping strategies, as recommended by the Dept. of Energy are:
- Use dense windbreaks to protect the home from cold winter winds.
- Allow the winter sun to reach south-facing windows.
- Shade south and west windows and walls from the direct summer sun if summer overheating is a problem. (Click to learn more about landscaping for shade.)
Think Beyond Trees for Shade
Using a trellis to hold and support a climbing vine, such as clematis, is a good way to provide shade against the hot sun while still allow air flow. Good air circulation is important to prevent mold, mildew and damage to your home.
And it’s not just the shade that helps cool your home. The plant or tree’s evapotranspiration rate can cool the surrounding air temperature by as much as 9º F. To learn more about the science behind evapotranspiration, visit Energy.gov.
Energy-efficient landscaping can also include the shrubs, and groundcover plants that shade the ground and pavement around the home. Anyone who has ever stepped barefoot onto a driveway on a hot summer day can tell you – concrete and pavement radiate heat. Planting cooling plants, hedges, rows of shrubs or vine-wrapped trellises can shade these areas and cool the air before it reaches your home’s walls and windows. They’re all great for cooling patios, too!
Personalize Your Plan
If you’re creating a landscape plan with the intent of affecting your energy usage, be sure to consider the unique aspects that make up the “microclimate” of your property. The microclimate includes the area immediately surrounding your home, and it might include elevation, nearby bodies of water, and other factors that can affect humidity, moisture, soil, and temperature. All have the potential to help or hinder the growth of some plants, and they may contribute to long-term problems you may not foresee. To be on the safe side, contact a landscaper that is very familiar with your local area and run your plan by them before investing. You’ll only benefit from that extra expertise!
Feeling inspired? Earth Day is April 22nd, so spread the love–and a little awareness–with a pin! Visit PPL Electric Utilities on Pinterest or share the earth-friendly info below from the tteam at Project Evolve.