If you take care in planning your landscaping, as shown in Figure 1, you, the homeowner, can save hundreds of dollars each year in the energy that your heating and air conditioning systems require to operate.
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Figure 1 - Energy efficient landscaping
Following are some landscaping tips to save energy:
On the northwest side of your home:
Evergreen shrubs and trees will provide a winter wind block. Plant the evergreen shrubs in the front of the evergreen trees in order that the shrubs and trees become a wind ramp and direct the wind over your house.
On the west side of your home:
Use a horizontal trellis to cover the patio and shade the west wall of the house.
Use raised decks to promote rapid drying and cooling.
High plants or shrubs can be used to direct cooler summer breezes towards your house.
On the southwest, south and southeast side of your home:
Use a groundcover such as bark near the home to absorb the sun's rays. You can use a groundcover such as bark under trees where grass will not grow.
If you have natural ventilation around your home, keep shrubs and plants low so that you do not inadvertently block the air circulation.
If you do not have natural ventilation around your home, shrubs planted to maintain a foot of space between the shrubs and the wall will help insulate the building by creating a dead air space between the exterior house walls and the shrubs. This will help to prevent excess moisture retention.
High canopy deciduous trees provide shade and cool any breezes without blocking air movement.
Utilize shaded walkways and driveways in order to channel the cool breezes towards the house.
On the east side of the home:
Place the air conditioner's compressor on the east side of the house and shade it with a horizontal trellis and/or trees and shrubs.
Building a new home
If you are building a new house and have the option of positioning your home on the property your should take these items into consideration in order to reduce energy costs for heating and cooling:
Position the building so that the axis is 5 degrees south of east to 15 degrees north of east so that the house faces the summer breezes and minimizes east and west wall exposure.
Position the garage on the west side of the house in order to buffer the solar heat load on the home.
Position the driveway so that summer breezes carry radiated heat away from the house.
Shade and minimize the use of reflective ground coverings such as concrete.