As temperatures rise during summer months, many homeowners rely on air conditioning to keep their homes cool and comfortable. However, cranking up the AC can result in skyrocketing energy bills. Fortunately, there is a very simple solution that will help reduce energy usage, save you money, and create a more comfortable home environment: landscaping.
The right landscaping can provide shade, increase air circulation, reduce how much heat your home absorbs, and create a more comfortable environment for people and pets. Use these 6 great ideas on landscaping to create the yard of your dream while saving energy this summer.
Use Trees and Plants to Provide Shade
One of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce energy costs during the summer months is by using trees and plants to provide shade around your house. It is well-known that trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, but they also play a significant role in regulating temperatures.
By planting trees and shrubs around your property, you can create a natural barrier to the sun’s intense rays. The shade will help keep your home cooler and limit how heavily you need to rely on air conditioning. If you’re interested in more energy savings tips for summer when it comes to your air conditioner and home environment, check out 5 More Ways to Save Energy Costs as Summer Temps Heat Up. Strategically planting trees and shrubs around your home can save up to 25 percent on your energy costs.
When selecting trees and plants for shading purposes, it is essential to choose those that are native to your region and are best suited to weather conditions where you live. In Texas, ideal shade trees include oak varieties, Cedar Elm, and Pecan trees. Also, deciduous trees are a great option because they provide ample shade in summer and drop their leaves in winter, allowing sunlight to penetrate through in the cooler months and warm up the house. If your home is subject to heavy winds or you need to continuously block the sun, choose dense evergreen shrubs or trees.
Include Water Features and Fountains
Water features like fountains, small ponds, and waterfalls not only add aesthetic value to your landscape but also help to reduce heat. These features help to create a relaxing and refreshing atmosphere while also humidifying the air, which can cool the surrounding environment through evaporation. This can help reduce the air temperature around your home, creating less of a need to keep the air conditioner running.
Water features also promote biodiversity in your yard by providing habitat for various plant and animal species. This will help maintain a healthy ecosystem and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers or pesticides that might harm the environment or contribute to climate change.
When installing water features and fountains, it is important to position them strategically so they don’t become a breeding ground for mosquitoes or cause any safety hazards to children and pets.
Plant Grass to Cool Down the Environment
Grass provides an excellent cooling effect in hot weather through a variety of mechanisms. First, grass absorbs and reflects sunlight, which can help reduce the amount of heat that is absorbed by the ground. This keeps the surrounding air temperature cooler and reduces the need for air conditioning to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.
Grass also transpires water, which is a process where water evaporates from the leaves and releases moisture into the surrounding environment. This release of moisture helps cool the air, similar to how a swamp cooler or air conditioning unit works.
In the winter, grass can even act as an insulator to help regulate the soil temperature and reduce heat loss. Grass, when planted with care and taken care of efficiently, is an excellent addition to a well-planned landscape and also creates a safer environment for children and pets to play. Be sure to never water your grass in the heat of the day and don’t overwater, which causes waste and creates runoff.
Or, Replace Grass with Cheaper Alternative Groundcovers
Most of us may not consider replacing our grass with something else. A yard with crisp, freshly trimmed grass is ubiquitous in many places in the U.S., but most of us don’t consider the energy and financial costs associated with maintaining that perfectly green yard.
If you would also like to reduce the amount of water you consume in the summer months to keep your yard looking nice, consider replacing traditional grass with alternative ground covers like native grasses, wildflowers, or other drought resistant landscaping and vegetation. While grass may be the standard for yards, watering grass can lead to excessive evaporation and water waste.
Those who live in very hot and arid climates especially will benefit from replacing grass, which requires both water and typically the operation of a lawn mower to keep it trimmed. Gas-powered lawn mowers not only cost money to purchase, maintain, and operate, they also further contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.
If you have a strong desire to keep your grass, cannot imagine a yard without grass,or simply don’t want to spend the energy and water it takes to maintain grass, at least consider switching to a drought-resistant variety of grass. Also be sure to save your grass clippings to naturally fertilize the soil.
In addition to vegetation and drought-resistant grass that requires a fraction of the water, another option is decorative rocks for your yard. Even if you are reluctant to replace all your grass with other types of landscaping, consider replacing at least a portion of it to reap the benefits of reduced energy consumption.
Create an Outdoor Living Space
By creating an outdoor living space, homeowners can reduce their reliance on air conditioning and create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere in their backyard.
An outdoor kitchen of some kind, even if it’s as simple as a grill and a seating area, can encourage outside gatherings. For areas like this, ensure there is plenty of shade from your trees and vegetation, a table umbrella, or another type of covering to keep the sun’s hot rays off the space.
One popular option for outdoor space is a pool. In addition to the water helping reduce the air temperature surrounding your home, pools provide a great option for keeping cool in the summer. There are also pools available to fit nearly any budget, from large in-ground pools to small wading pools for your children and pets. Combining a pool of any size along with a cabana-type area with shaded lounging chairs creates a relaxed ambiance to entertain friends and family while taking advantage of natural shade.
Install Hardscaping to Reduce Heat Absorption
Hardscaping refers to the use of non-living materials like stone, concrete, and pavers in landscaping. This type of landscaping can help to reduce heat absorption and reflect sunlight away from the house.
Hardscaping features like patios, walkways, and retaining walls can be used to cool down the environment by allowing water to seep into the ground while reducing erosion and soil pollution.
In conclusion, a well-planned landscape can play a significant role in reducing energy costs during the summer months. By using trees and plants for shading, water features, grass, hardscape elements, and creating outdoor living spaces, homes can become more energy-efficient and cost-effective during peak summer weather. With these tips, homeowners can create a beautiful and sustainable landscape that enhances their quality of life while benefiting the environment.
Tips for Creating an Energy Efficient Landscape: Summary
To create an effective energy-saving landscape, follow these basic rules for your new, energy efficient landscape:
- Plant shade trees. Choose trees that are appropriate for your region, the location of your home, and plant them in strategic locations to reap the most benefits.
- Install water features, like fountains, waterfalls, small pools, etc. This will reduce the air temperature near your home.
- If you keep your grass, take care of it efficiently.
- Consider switching to drought-resistant grass or other landscaping, such as native plants and decorative rocks, that won’t consume as much water.
- Create an inviting outdoor space for your family.
- Use hardscaping in your yard to reduce heat absorption.
While planning your new landscape, also consider if your electricity company is providing you with the best, low-cost service available. Payless Power allows you to monitor your daily energy consumption to manage your consumption. We offer no deposit, prepaid electricity plans that provide you with the flexibility, oversight, and savings you need.
Energy-Efficient Landscaping | Department of Energy
Smart Landscaping and Energy Efficiency (firstenergycorp.com)