Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Certain Plants in Certain Places Cut Down on Home Energy Bills

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Certain Plants in Certain Places Cut Down on Home Energy Bills

Article excerpt

The nicest thing about energy-landscaping is that it pays off year after year.

So if your home's energy bills seem high, check the landscaping to see if the selection and positioning of plants will help.

Because this is air-conditioning time in much of the country, start now by considering the cooling comfort of a shady spot on a hot day. Trees can be used in much the same way to strategically shade a home from the most intense sunlight.

Conversely, winter sun - if not blocked by landscaping - will supply free solar heat.

Deciduous trees are ideal for energy landscaping because they provide shade during the warmest months but allow the sun to reach and warm the house in winter, cutting heating costs.

A University of Arizona study some years ago reported that exterior shading was seven times more effective than interior cooling.

The study, by horticulturists William Miller and Charles Sacamano, found that an outside wall in full sun transmits three times the heat of a shaded wall to the interior of a structure.

It said that an unshaded roof adds to the interior twice the heat of a shaded one.

A dense tree canopy was estimated to screen out at least 80 percent of the full-sun radiation and reduce the maximum high temperatures inside a typical house by 20 percent.

In a similar context, the Salt River Project, a major supplier of electricity in Arizona, advised customers that three trees planted on the west and southwest sides of a house can save $50 to $100 in summer-cooling costs after they mature.

Few states receive as much sunshine as Arizona, but the basic premise will be correct for any climate.

In setting out landscaping, be sure to consider how shadows move throughout the year. While the sun always travels on an east-west arc during daytime, the arc varies as the sun moves from the southern sky in winter to the northern sky in summer. …

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