How to use Landscaping to Increase Your Home's Energy Efficiency
We’re well on our descent into a New England winter -- and as the temperatures plummet, your energy bill is probably going up.
Being an environmentally savvy consumer isn’t just about sealing up the windows and setting the thermostat. Your landscaping can play a huge part in saving you money on your electric and natural gas bills.
Here’s how to use landscaping to increase your home’s energy efficiency.
1. Create A Natural Windbreak
Cold winter winds are enemy No. 1 when it comes to energy efficiency. To keep energy costs down, plant a dense windbreak to cut the winter winds.
How to plant a windbreak: Evergreen trees provide the best windbreaks, but native trees can do the same job. Staghorn sumac and redbud trees are adapted to our harsh winters, and they're gorgeous additions to any Connecticut landscape.
Tip: Don’t plant a windbreak on the south side of your home. The winter sun provides passive solar heat that can help keep your home warm. Just make sure to open the shades and blinds during the day.
2. Add Native Trees and Plants
As long as you’re planting native trees, search for plants that are native to Connecticut. The New England aster and Butterfly weed don’t need much water or care, so you won’t have to run your sprinkler often. You’ll be conserving energy and water.
3. Add Shrubs to Block Snow Drifts
When a blizzard or nor’easter dumps a foot or two of snow on your property, snowdrifts can drive up your energy costs. But small shrubs can catch drifting snow from piling up.
How to block snow with shrubs: Plant shrubs on the windward side of your windbreak to help those trees do their job. Depending on how your property is laid out, a line of shrubs could help keep your driveway, porch, and patio free of snowdrifts.
Fences also can help direct the winds. Lower, segmented fences are better than solid fences, which direct the breezes overhead.
4. Use Greenery Outside to Insulate Your Home
Smart homeowners know insulation is key to energy savings. It’s not just sealing windows and blowing new insulation into the attic -- the outside of your home can act like a layer of insulation, too.
How to use greenery to insulate your home: Plant bushes and vines next to your home to create a wall of dead air that insulates the interior from freezing temperatures. A vertical garden planted on a trellis will absorb heat.
Tip: The U.S. Department of Energy suggests leaving one foot of space between mature trees and plants and the exterior wall of your home.
5.Strategically Plant Shade Trees
We’re focused on the winter ahead right now, but your landscaping can lower your cooling costs in the summer, too.
How to plant trees to lower your power bills: Plant deciduous trees that will shade your home from the summer sun, and will also allow the sunshine through its branches once the trees have lost their leaves for the winter. Examples include native trees like birch trees, chestnuts, oaks, cherry trees, and plum trees.
Tip: Plant the taller deciduous trees to the south so the branches shade the roof of your home. Plant the shorter trees on the west side to block the sun as it sets, but allow the rays of the sun to bathe your home in warmth in the winter.
6. Add Hardscape to Regulate Temperature
Your patio and walkways absorb heat during the day and reflect it back on the house when it cools down at night. The more hardscaping you have on the south side of your home, the less energy you’ll need to heat your house.
Add features like a water fountain and awning to your patio area. Flowing water creates its own microclimate around your home and naturally cools the air. A shaded area near your home will also cut down on the need for air conditioning.
7. Energy Efficient Outdoor Lights
The days of energy-hogging landscape lighting are long gone. Outdoor solar lights convert sunlight into electricity and are easy to install. They add a measure of safety to your walkways and yard, without adding to your electric bill.
LED motion detector flood lights can also save you money, since they only turn on when they sense activity.
Smart Landscaping Cuts Your Utility Bills
Your landscaping can save you 25% or more of your energy costs. If you plant your trees in the right places, and add in some shrubs and vines -- it makes your home look good and feel comfortable.
It’s an investment with long-term returns: savings on your utility bills, and an earth-friendly strategy toward weathering the extremes in Connecticut’s climate.
If you are ready to create a more energy efficient home, give Litchfield Builders a call and let's see how we can help make your space more energy efficient.
About Bryce Thompson
Bryce Thompson is a home stager and freelance writer who specializes in inexpensive ways to improve energy efficiency and curb appeal.