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Landscaping for Energy Conservation

Landscaping isn’t just for increasing your home’s value and improving its aesthetics. It’s not just about creating a beautiful space for you, your family and friends to enjoy. Landscaping can actually help improve the home environment not just in aesthetic ways, but in concrete ways. By regulating the climate around the house through well-placed Utah shrubs and trees, prudent homeowners can actually enjoy saving a considerable amount on their energy bills in the long term.

How does this work?

Utah landscaping companies have intuitively used plants as energy conservation devices. The principle behind it is in keeping the house cooler during summers (decreasing heat gain) and preventing heat from escaping during winters (decreasing heat loss).

To understand this, we must first outline how houses gain or loss heat. Here are three ways:

–  Air infiltration. Houses lose heat during winter when cool air enters through the cracks in the windows and doors. Plants can slow down and even block the winter winds so that less draft (which makes the house colder) can enter the house.

–   Solar radiation. The heat from the sun enters the home when the windows allow the sun’s rays in. If the rays enter through the windows at a perpendicular angle, the home can absorb up to 90% of the heat. Trees and shrubs can minimize the entry of the sun’s rays and keep the house cooler in the summertime.

–  Heat conduction. Another way that heat enters the home is through heat conduction. Heat is transferred into the environment as hot air moves around the exterior of the house and into the house via the walls, the roof and even the pavement.

Landscaping techniques for Energy Conservation

Here are some ways that expert Utah landscape contractors design landscapes that conserve energy:

–  Choose the right kind of trees and plants for your landscape. Trees not only block the wind and the sun’s rays. They also release water vapor so that the air is cooler. The important thing is to choose the right trees to be placed at the right areas. Choose a moderately growing tree that presents dense foliage in the summer and loses the leaves in the winter time. When choosing the trees, also consider the full height. A tree can serve as a windbreak and can cover an area that is 10 times its height.

–  Determine the direction of the winter winds. For the windbreak to be effective, it should stand at a right angle to the prevailing winter winds. Winter winds usually come from the north and northwest. Be sure to place a tall plant in this area.

–  Use plants as insulation. Plants placed beside the window can obstruct the sun’s rays while letting the breeze in. shrubs and vines can act as insulation and lower the temperature in the roof and wall. You can also minimize the heat coming from reflected surfaces such as the water in the pool, the driveway and the roads by adding ground cover all around your house.

–  Shield your AC unit. When your air conditioning unit is heated up, it requires more energy for it to expel cool air. You can shield the unit by planting shrubs or trees near it. However, the plant should not be too close to the unit so as to prevent airflow coming out of the unit.

–  Plan with utility lines in mind. Because the trees selected will grow very tall when they are at their full height, they should be kept away from utility lines. The trees should be planted at least 15 feet from the utility lines.

–  Create “dead air” around the house. “Dead air” is air that has minimal movement. As such, it acts as additional insulation as the air is less likely to penetrate the cracks and holes. The dead air also prevents heat from escaping from the home.  You should plant shrubs at least 1 foot away from the house.

–  Direct breezes into the house. A combination of a wall and a row of trees can serve to funnel cooling breezes around the house.

–  Consider a water feature. Utah waterfalls or fountains not only brighten up the landscape, they also have a cooling effect.

–  Get the help of a professional. A landscape professional has the experience and the technical know-how to design an energy-wise landscape plan. He also knows which plants work with your particular landscape and how these could be installed.