One of the greatest opportunities to conserve energy is shading your home by using trees, awnings or curtains.
Planting trees around your home, known as “treescaping” can help save up to 25 percent of your household energy consumption for heating and cooling. When picking your tree, consult with your local agricultural extension agent or nursery for advice. For maximum energy savings, plant deciduous trees (those with seasonal leaves) to provide shade and block heat in the summertime while allowing sunlight in your home during the winter. Plant these on the west and south sides of your home. For energy efficiency in the winter, plant evergreens on the north and west sides of your home. Use the sun or a compass for determining the correct direction to place your trees.
Awnings are also a popular option in sunny climates since they block solar heat before it gets to your windows. Awnings can cover a single window, a door or an entire patio. Awnings should be large and low enough to keep direct sun from entering windows. The cost of awnings varies widely, dependent on the material, and if they require professional installation.
Curtains can be a less expensive way to keep the solar rays out of your home, and they offer help in the winter. Install insulated or “blackout” curtains in rooms where the sun light is most prevalent. The best way to use them is to close the curtain during the day to allow added heat into the home, and close them at night to help keep the heat in.
Taking all these things into consideration will improve your home’s energy efficiency. Be sure to call 811 before you dig to determine the location of any underground utilities around your home. Additionally, be cautious about planting trees and other vegetation that may have the potential to tower near overhead power lines.