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  • Does Money Grow on Trees? Using Trees To Save On Energy

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Ice Storm of 2013 probably did more damage to our trees than they did to homes and power lines. From January to now, we can still see scattered branches and trunks in our backyards and parks. So this Spring, it’s time to plant some new ones. Why? Because the right placement of trees around your home can have a very significant effect on your energy consumption.

First Off: Plant Safe

A big reason the Ice Storm did as much damage as it did to our power lines and left so many Ontario homeowners in the dark over the Christmas season was the substandard placement of trees.

Ontario Energy Group Consumer Watch advises, that if you are planting trees this season, that you plant them at least 8 meters away from any lines, and at least 6 meters away from the walls of your house. In the event a tree falls, this will minimize the damage it can cause to nearby lines or your home.

Leafy Trees Should Be on South and Southeast

Trees with large leafs, also known as deciduous trees, should be planted along your south and southeast sides of your house. This provides some very unique advantages for green energy savings. Not only do these leafy greens provide valuable shade from morning and noon sun in the summer, their leaves will fall off in the winter and allow the maximum sunlight into your home during the winter.

The right placement can keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If your house is particularly far removed from other homes or tall buildings, consider deciduous trees on the southwest end of your home as well, to block that heavy late-afternoon sun.

Shrubs Don’t Just Look Nice, They Insulate

Most shrubs and hedges are placed far out near the street, which is exactly where you don’t want them. These thick and wiry plants act as amazing insulators, and can actually keep your home warm in the winter by insulating your foundation against cold air, wind, and snow and ice buildup.

It’s recommended that you place your shrubs a minimum of two feet away from your foundation walls to ensure that growth doesn’t interfere with your house; and to plant shrubs to interlock on the sides to provide that characteristic hedge wall that looks sleek and elegant.

Trees with Needles Can Act As Wind Shields

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Large, thick pines and other needled trees are all-season trees. They’ll remain as thick as they do in the summer as they do in the winter. And even a single row of white pines can reduce the amount of wind hitting your home by up to 60%, and can increase your home temperature by between 2 to 3 degrees. When you put down on paper how much it costs that month to heat your home by that much, it can add up to a lot of savings!

How far or close you place your pines to your home really doesn’t matter as long as they create and adequate “wind shield”. To know where best to place your trees, check where the greatest amount of wind is hitting your home. In particular, look for if larger windows are bearing the brunt of wind. Planted far enough away, these pines won’t never need to obstruct your view.

There’s obvious environmental benefits to tree planting, and they can be a great way to decorate your property. This spring, start thinking about some of the ways you can use trees to act as natural climate controllers so your utilities aren’t working overtime, and don’t eat away at your bill.

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