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Community and Q&A

Is there such a thing as landscaping that helps home insulation?

dnardoza | Posted in General Questions on

I live in New Jersey, and have been recently doing some landscaping around the house. Now I know that shade trees helps with sun in the summer, I’m thinking everyone who has sat under a tree in July knows this.

But I was wondering are there some trees that help break the wind, help the house stay warmer in the winter if put close enough to the side of the house. And if so what would be the distance? Also is there a negative to putting large trees/bushes too close to the house? Drainage? Roots doing damage? Messing with the foundation, pipes? basement? Encouraging unwanted mold on the house?

Basically I’m curious has anyone ever addressed the issues of what I guess would be “Green Landscaping” as far as improving the energy load of the house it surrounds?

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    During the 1930s, after the Dust Bowl, agricultural extension agents urged farmers on the Great Plains to plant trees near their homes as wind breaks. If you drive through the prairie states, you can see plenty of examples of this approach. But it's more common in Nebraska than New Jersey.

    There is a great deal of information on this topic on the Web. I would take estimates of energy savings with a grain of salt; actual energy savings will be greater in a poorly insulated, leaky building than in a well insulated, tight building.

    How to Plant Trees to Conserve Energy

    Windbreaks and their use
    "Windbreaks reduce heating and cooling cost to homes."

    Selecting Trees and Shrubs in Windbreaks
    "There are opportunities for cost share and even annual land payments for the land planted to trees as windbreaks, wildlife plantings, shelterbelts and living snow fences. The USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), continuous sign up offers cost-share, annual payments and incentive payments. Contact your county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office for more details."

    Windbreaks for Iowa
    "Renewed interests in windbreaks surfaced during the energy crisis of the 1970's and continues today."

    Tree Wind breaks for Farms and Homes
    "Evergreen windbreaks can block up to 75 percent of the winter wind around the home, resulting in a reduction in winter heating costs up to 15 to 25 percent. In some situations, windbreaks can result in reductions in summer cooling costs."

    Windbreaks for Rural Living
    "Well designed windbreaks can cut energy costs as much as 20 to 40 percent."

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    You might also want to read the following section of the GBA Encyclopedia: Green Landscapes.

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