Summers in Georgia are beautiful with the sun shining and green leaves on trees. Our inexpensive energy resources may not always be around, though. Heat from roofs, sidewalks, roads, and parking lots are raising temperatures in our homes and offices. To combat this problem, we turn up the air even more. While our buildings are better insulated now than in years past, 18 percent of summer energy is still being used to cool our homes.
Trees are an effective way to lower energy use by up to 20 percent. When the proper species are planted in the right places, cooling bills will be significantly lowered because the leaves block and absorb the sun’s rays. Shaded areas also do not need to be painted as often, which lowers total maintenance costs.
Here’s how to plan where trees should be planted:
- Determine where the sun rises and sets with respect to your home.
- Figure out which areas (windows, walls, doors, a/c units, or decks) receive the most hours of direct sunlight and indirect sunlight (reflected sun). Make a drawing and take notes.
- Determine where the shade needs to be to most effectively block the sun. How far above the ground? Can one tree shade two windows?
- Determine how much space is available for the tree’s root system.
Remember: Do not use evergreen trees on the south and west sides of the house, as the sun’s rays can’t reach the house through the branches in the winter.
If trees cannot be planted everywhere, use this list to prioritize the desired locations:
- Air conditioning units on south or west side of home
- West and southwest facing windows and doorways
- East and southeast facing windows
- West and southwest facing wood sided walls
- Any deck areas that reflect light to the interior of the home