July 25, 2012

On cold winter days, a ray of sun streaming into your house can be most welcome - a free source of heat. But what about in the summer, when those rays of sun and other, less-evident solar heat, seep into our already too-hot houses and become a costly nuisance? Well, what happens is that you lose money. But using landscaping (namely by planting trees) to shade your home can be a great way to lower energy costs.

Thanks to (get ready for a big word!) evapotranspiration (big, but not scary: it's just the tree or plant releasing water vapor), air temperatures can be reduced up to 9° Farenheit in areas around trees, which creates a cool microclimate. Adeptly placed trees can cut air conditioning costs in the summer by 15%-50%, and one well positioned tree has the daily cooling effects of five air conditioners running for 20 hours a day. And it's easy to figure out where to place these trees: close to windows!

Shading east- and west-facing windows with trees can reduce costs in any climate, and south-facing windows just need a little more thought. In a hot climate? Go for it, shading will keep energy costs down year round. In a cold or mixed climate? Consider planting deciduous trees so you don't run the risk of impeding welcome solar heat in the winter.

According to the Department of Energy, the average return on investment for landscaping as a means of low energy cooling is less than 8 years. And if you plant trees as saplings, it's likely that they will begin shading your windows within a year, and reach the roof within the next 5 to 10 years (depending on tree species and climate).

But then again, since when did we need to do an ROI calculation for planting a tree?

  • Leslie DiMaggio, Fox River Grove, IL

    I want to tell you that we are COMPLETELY satisfied with the work you guys did at the house... The house definitely feels cooler. We know you guys made an extra effort with us and also gave us a great price. We love you guys!!!!!!!! I have already recommended you to three people. Thanks!

  • Nina Brakel, Park Ridge, IL

    We LOVE the new windows. I can't believe what a difference it has made in the house - it is soooooo peaceful upstairs now. And, the outside of the house looks new! Thank you! And, you were great to work with - thank you. Gregg and I both commented on your professionalism and knowledge.

  • Toby Trabert, Oak Park, IL

    I own a Victorian style home that desperately needed insulation. I hired Energy360 Solutions and they discovered major air leakage through the many nooks and crannies of my attic.

  • Scott Gillis, Woodridge, IL

    My home was uncomfortable. It was so difficult to keep it warm in the winter and there was no sound barrier. We could hear everything that was going on outside. We needed insulation and called Energy360 Solutions. They provided us with a great solution using dense packed Cellulose insulation.

  • The Holzl Family, Mt Prospect, IL

    After 14 years of living in our house, and suffering each winter in our chilly family room built over a crawlspace, we hired Energy360 Solutions to perform an energy audit of our entire house. One of their findings was that we were losing heat out of the wall joists of the crawlspace.

  • Ken & Julie Kittredge, Mt Prospect, IL

    Our first ever energy audit from Energy360 solutions was a very exciting and interactive experience. We learned so much about the energy efficiencies of our home or better said the lack of efficiencies.

  • Mark Hoffmeister, Mt Prospect, IL

    Our home was sealed and insulated in March 2014. The results were immediate. The house air conditioning was improved especially in the upper floors. This cold winter comfort improvement in heating the house was successful.