Homeowners often place importance on getting energy savings through air-sealing projects and upgrading to energy-efficient equipment. These steps are certainly effective, but did you know that you can work with landscaping to make a positive impact on energy savings, as well as beautify the outside of your home?
Regions like Calgary’s are classified as “cool.” That means that homes can take advantage of:
- Windbreaks, to counteract the winds from the Great Plains, which decrease the amount of heating you need.
- Calgary’s abundant winter sunshine, which helps to warm the home in the winter and cuts heating costs.
- Shading in the summer, to enhance cooling equipment and home efficiency.
Calgary’s regional winds can really whip up a strong wind chill effect, but creating a windbreak with landscaping counteracts the winds. The most effective windbreaks use shrubs or trees that are low to the ground in the north or northwest corner of the home’s property, and should generally be planted at a distance of at least two times the height of the trees from your home.
To take advantage of the winter sun, which penetrates not only your home’s windows but enhances the heating in your home, take care to plant shrubbery and evergreens at a distance from your home. If landscaping is too close, it will block warm winter sun.
Plants that are located close to your home can act as additional insulation in both the winter and summer because they create a “dead zone.” Make sure shrubbery and bushes are located at least 30 centimetres (cm) away from the home.
Finally, shading can be proactively used to cool your home in the summer. In fact, shading and evapotranspiration (water vapour released by plants) can cool the air around your home by 5 degrees Celsius. Deciduous trees are ideal for creating shade in the summer and avoiding the sun’s hot rays, but will allow the sun access in the winter.
There’s much that can be done with landscaping to enhance your home and its efficiency. For more information about heating and cooling efficiency, and about other actions that can increase energy savings, contact the experts at Arpi’s.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information, click here to download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.