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Published on May 25th, 2014 | by Derek Markham

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Smart Landscaping Tips To Help You Save Energy (INFOGRAPHIC)

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May 25th, 2014 by  

Originally published on Cost of Solar.

While we love home solar systems for saving money and reducing energy demand from the grid, it’s not the only way to lower the impact of your home and reduce your cost of living. There are number of other energy saving solutions, both solar and non-solar, that fall under the scope of home improvement projects, but sometimes, it’s the most down-to-earth strategies that can end up putting money back in your pocket.

Well-designed landscaping is one example of a potentially energy saving tactic for homeowners, but all too often, the default choice of landscaping is, well, default. The landscaping design of an older home is inherited with the house, and is probably based on archaic notions of beauty and meant to fit in with the rest of the neighborhood when it was built. And many new homes come with a bare-bones “default” landscape, which isn’t usually designed and installed with an eye toward saving energy and reducing utility bills, and is usually one of the last things people consider when looking at buying a home.

But by establishing a well-designed landscape that is suited to the regional climate and local weather conditions, homeowners can end up saving money on home energy costs, reducing the amount of water use, buffering their home from noise and air pollution, and staying more comfortable inside and out of the house. According to Energy.gov, a smart landscape design can reduce a home’s air conditioning costs by as much as 50%, planting windbreaks on three sides of a house can cut fuel consumption by 40%, and well-designed landscaping can pay for itself in less than 8 years.

Here’s a great infographic from Energy.gov that illustrates some energy saving landscaping tips:

 Energy Saving Landscaping Tips [Infographic]

Installing suitable energy saving landscaping as part of a home energy makeover can end up putting money back in your pocket, especially in conjunction with a solar energy system, because by reducing overall home energy demand, those solar panels will end up being much more effective in meeting your home’s energy needs.

–> Take a few seconds to run a free solar report on your property and find out how much solar panels are projected to cost in your situation and how much solar could save you!

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About the Author

lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, slacklining, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves good food, with fresh roasted chiles at the top of his list of favorites. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, RebelMouse, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!



  • derek

    I’m torn between tall trees for shade versus solar panels for power AND shade. Won’t panels shade the house and keep it cool almost as well as trees
    /

    • http://www.shapeways.com/shops/greendimension Tony Reyes

      Depends on how many panels you install but shading from panels is definitely a plus that is rarely quantified. I painted my shingle roof white just before installing my panels and the combination lowered my upstairs temp by more than 5 degrees in the Summer. Also, the CO2 saved by your solar array is equivalent to planting thousands of trees over the course of its useful life, a much greater environmental effect than what a handful of trees on your property can provide.

  • Rick Kargaard

    Excellent information.
    Also you can cut the grass a little less often to reduce pollution. A smaller lawn makes an electric lawnmower more practical.
    Saved rainwater from roofs may be all you need for well chosen plants. Directing runoff from drives and walks to areas where extra moisture is needed can help.
    Be careful with reflective surfaces so as not to overheat an area.
    Trees and shrubs cool the air in their immediate vicinity during summer by transpiration, increasing their value.
    Generous use of mulch helps protect plants from dought and can be decorative. An example is colored wood chips.

  • Kyle Field

    Many areas also offer rebates for replacing turf with more water friendly / drought tolerant plant life. I’m personally just starting this journey and made some huge progress this weekend by picking up 10 pots of succulents at a garage sale for $1 ea :D and grabbing a few small clippings from neighbors while walking around to start off new cactus plants with. We are actively working to replace our traditional rose/grass/flower front and back yards with succulents and native species. It’s exciting to me that we can save water, save money and improve the look of our home all at the same time.

    Every journey starts with a single step…but you’ll never get there if you worry about when you’ll finish or whatever. Take that step…buy a plant…cap that sprinkler :)

    http://socalwatersmart.com/index.php/qualifyingproducts/turfremoval?p=res

  • Benjamin Nead

    Another consideration that should be mentioned here is that moving trees or plant life from one part of the world (or even another part of a large country, such as the US,) to another can do more harm than good. We’ve got any number of invasive plant species here in the desert southwest US that were brought here with good intentions, but have proven to be troublesome.

    Shortly after WWII, new settlers to Tucson, Arizona, thought their cactus-laden yards should more like northern climate mountain areas they just moved away from. One type of evergreen tree they brought here for that effect was the salt cedar, or tamarisk . . .

    http://www.desertmuseum.org/invaders/invaders_tamarisk.php

    As noted in the above article, the tree actually made it down here earlier than that. But there are numerous post WWII neighborhoods in Tucson where you can find these trees in their mature state in proximity, indicating that a fair amount of purposeful planting occurred here during those years.

    While these tree do provide welcome shade, their highly acidic needles negatively affect native plant life that happened to be growing under the their boughs. Because of the mild winters here, tamarisks grow with wild abandon year round. The wood, as a result, is weak and large limbs regularly fall after a stiff wind or storm. Having lived in several Tucson houses over the past couple of decades with tamarisks on the property or nearby, I can only describe the experience akin to living next to a 60 foot tall dandelion. When the tree finally does die and needs to be removed, it is always an expensive and tedious process.

    The shade tree that REALLY belongs in this part of the world is the mesquite . . .

    http://www.desertharvesters.org/native-tree-information/choosing-mesquite-trees-for-landscapes-by-greg-corman/

    The only downside to having a mesquite on your property is that the tree sheds bean pods at the end of the summer. This can make a mild mess underfoot, but even this is more lemonade than lemons. The dried bean pods, if you take the time to harvest them, can be ground into mesquite flour, which is both tasty and good for you . . .

    http://deborahsmall.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/native-cultures-mesquite-flour/

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