This week on the Blooming Rock Blog, I’m excited to have guest blogger Doreen Pollack teach us about passive cooling strategies with planting. With our brutal Phoenix summer sneaking up on us, this information is a must know to guard against unnecessary heat gain inside our homes, whether it be for this summer or for summers to come.
Doreen Pollack is the Garden Goddess and owner of Down 2 Earth Gardens, providing garden consultations and coaching. Get gardening tips at monthly workshops, on her blog or newsletter. Visit www.down2earthgardens.com to learn more.
It’s scientifically proven that when you keep the sun off of a surface it will remain cooler. Think about it – on a hot, sunny day would you rather sit in the sun or the shade? In a hot, sunny parking lot do you park in the shade or park in the sun?
So why wouldn’t you apply these same ideas to your home?
The California Energy Commission’s Consumer Energy Center says the right type of tree can reduce your summer cooling costs by 20 to 40 percent. The United States Department of Energy says that shading an air-conditioning unit can save as much as 10% of the costs of running it. And the many variables – type of tree, where you plant it, the climate and humidity where you live, and the
efficiency of your home’s heating and air-conditioning units – all affect the bottom line.
Here are some tips to consider when selecting a tree:
- Plan for when the tree is mature. Be sure you know the height of the tree and the width of the canopy. Give the tree enough room
to grow so you do not need to manage (aka prune) the branches that might grow against your house or roof.
- Check for overhead electric or phone lines to be sure your tree won’t grow into them.
- Equally know where the utilities might enter or cross your property underground!
- To use the winter sun to warm a house or room, use trees that lose their leaves in cooler weather. Deciduous trees are best-placed on the side of the house that receives the most sun exposure, especially the west and southwest.
- Evergreen trees trimmed so that their canopies allow low winter sum underneath but block the high summer sun can be very effective as well.
- If you can, plant a tree (or tall shrubbery) to shade your air-conditioning unit, which will keep it from having to work so hard.
- Choose trees that are well-adapted to your region. Native trees will be more resistant to local pests and diseases, and will
thrive where others might not.
- Be patient, ideally, the canopy of the tree will shade part of the roof in 5 to 10 years.