Trees are great for a home’s aesthetic, but many people want to have a greater understanding of their practical uses. Specifically, when it comes to energy savings.
It’s a fairly well-known fact that trees clean the air, but few people know how they can be used to reduce you energy consumption. But how exactly?
When placed strategically around a home, trees will save energy by cooling in the warmer summer months and provide a wind break during the winter months. Even just three trees around the home can make a huge difference.
A government sponsored study found that you can save up to 75% off the cost of cooling your home.
How Do Urban Trees Conserve Energy?
Direct sun on bricks or a roof will heat your home up all day and store that heat for hours requiring you to run your air conditioning most of the day. An air conditioning unit uses massive amounts of energy to run, so every minute you can switch it off the cheaper it will be.
Savings can even be felt in the winter months with deciduous trees. These are trees that shed their leaves during the winter, so you enjoy the benefit of the shade in the summer months as they will shade hard surfaces such as houses, driveways, and patios to minimize the landscape heat load, but get good light penetration during the colder months.
Some urban planners also sometimes used evergreen trees to enjoy their benefits in the winter.
When placed on the northern side of a building or area, they will serve as a type of windbreak. This also helps save on heating costs. These are the primary ways that trees help conserve energy.
Pro tip: Ben from Go Tree Quotes suggests you consult a certified arborist near you on the best trees to plant for your local conditions. They can also advise you on the best places to plant them around your home for maximum effect.
How Much Energy Is Saved?
While the area where you live will make a significant difference on how much energy is saved with trees, it’s estimated that the average house will save 30% of their air conditioning costs. During the winter months, it’s harder to estimate energy savings. However, it’s estimated that having trees serve as a windbreaker can save anywhere from 10-50% of heating costs.
In practical terms, what does that mean for actual costs? If you took the part of your energy bill that was used for air conditioning for the summer as being $100 during most of the year, but increased to $150/month during the summer, you can use trees to save approximately $50/month during summer. Most people use air conditioning for 4-5 months of the year which would amount to a total savings of $250 each year. Using the same number in the winter months would mean significant savings for most people throughout the year.
While these numbers are reasonable estimates of the potential savings with trees, keep in mind that you may be able to save significantly more depending on the area where you live. If you experience long hot summers or long, cold winters, you may find that you end up with higher savings than a typical home. Also, if you add these savings up over time, you’ll notice that it’s going to make a significant difference in the long run. To figure out how much you could potentially save, take your air conditioning costs in the summer months and multiply them by 30% to get an approximate idea.
Can Trees Add Value to Your Home?
Even without its benefits of energy savings, trees are an aesthetically pleasing part of any property. If you’ve ever seen a new home without any trees, it always looks unfinished. This doesn’t mean that you have to plant a huge number of trees though. In fact, it’s estimated that you only need three trees to make a difference for cooling.
Overall, it’s estimated that a mature tree will add $1000-$1,500 to the value of your home. This means that trees are a great long-term investment for any type of property. If you don’t currently have any trees, you will have to wait to start seeing the benefits. Having a tree on your property means providing some maintenance, but some types of trees requires lower maintenance than others. You may be able to maintain them yourself, but professional companies are always available if desired.
Trees Improve Air Quality
As most people know, trees play an important role in air quality due to their unique ability to remove Co2 and release oxygen. You may notice when walking through a forest that the air seems cleaner and fresher than other areas. This is likely due to a large number of trees present. The good news is that when you want to improve air quality, you don’t need an entire forest. A young tree will absorb approximately 13 pounds of Co2 each year. As the tree matures, they take in more Co2 and when a tree is fully mature at about 10 years, they will absorb 48 pounds of Co2 annually. The oxygen that the tree releases at that point would be adequate to support two human beings.
Trees can also remove other pollutants from the air. The leaves can process a number of major air pollutants. Sulfur dioxide, ozone, and nitrogen oxides are just a few of the compounds that they can remove from the atmosphere. These compounds are especially present in areas with a large number of vehicles. To give an idea of how effective they can be, one park found that over the growing season, the trees removed nine pounds of nitrogen dioxide.