Properly Located, Trees Can Cut Your Energy Bills

Article excerpt

Can shade trees lower your energy bills? Yes, say the experts. A lot.

Trees offer many benefits, from reducing pollution, to adding beauty and value to property, to creating wildlife habitat. Perhaps the most tangible benefit is reducing energy bills. We talked with two tree experts -- Dan Lambe, vice president of programs for the Arbor Day Foundation, and Scott Maco, a research urban forester with the Davey Tree Institute -- to learn more about this.

Question: How much energy and money can you actually save by planting trees?

Lambe: "Trees have a major effect, but it's difficult to be specific because every site is unique. One study showed that mature trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air-conditioning needs by 30 percent and heating needs by 20 percent. Another study showed that planting one young tree on the west side of your home can cut energy costs by 3 percent within five years, and nearly 12 percent within 15 years."

Maco: "Local climate plays a big role. Homes in hot areas can save up to 30 percent on their electricity bills, while in milder climates the savings may only 5 percent. However, even that can add up to substantial savings. The Davey Tree Institute, partnering with Casey Trees, maintains a Tree Benefit Calculator at treecalculator that helps you estimate the benefits of having a tree in your yard."

Q: How should you plant trees around your home for the greatest benefit?

Maco: "Trees save the most energy when planted on the east and west sides of a house. …