Save on energy bills–plant trees

By Jan Herbert
Rockford Park District

Whether you were “green” before the color was fashionable or whether you’re just ready to find the “shade” that works best for you, here’s information about doing just “one green thing.”

Whether it is a winter windbreak or summer shade, you can save by planting trees. Why should you? According to the U.S. Forest Service Center on Urban Research, three trees, properly placed around a home, can save up to 30 percent of your energy use! There’s a domino effect: you use less energy, the power company uses less energy (especially at peak demand times), less fossil fuel is used to create that energy, and less fossil fuel consumption means less carbon dioxide emissions.

So, here is additional information I should have included in the “Right tree, right place” column:

Deciduous trees (ones that lose their leaves) planted on the east and west sides of your home will keep it cool in the summer and let the sun in during the winter months. Large deciduous trees on the east, west, and northwest sides create soothing shade from the hot summer sun and reduce air conditioning costs.

Use trees or shrubs to shade air conditioners (a unit operating in the shade uses as much as 10 percent less electricity)!

After the leaves fall, the sun comes through tree branches to warm your home in the winter. The sun travels lower on the southern horizon in winter, so you will want to avoid planting evergreen trees on the south side of your home. Instead, consider an evergreen conifer windbreak on the north and northwest of your home. The best protection from the wind occurs when the windbreak is no more than the distance of one or two tree heights from the house. The down-wind side of the trees is where the most snow accumulates, so keep that distance equal to one or two tree heights from your roof and driveway.

All this information from the Arbor Day Foundation makes great sense!

For more information, e-mail Jan Herbert at

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