Garden Tidbits - Expert Advice for the Garden and Landscape

Using Trees to Heat and Cool Your House


Deciduous trees (their leaves fall off in the fall) are practical for letting in southern light during the winter to help warm your home, but they create a surprising amount of shade as well. Their limbs, branches, and shoots block out an appreciable amount of sun; you just don’t notice it because the shadow “ends” before it reaches the ground. But get out a light meter and compare the reading under a tree with that in an open space nearby, and you’ll see a considerable drop in light—many deciduous trees block 25 percent or more of the available light.

Here's how to use trees to decrease your heating and cooling bils:

• Place trees away from home to prevent blocking, scratching, and otherwise damaging solar panels.

• Avoid planting trees near the west or southwestern facing sides of home; these directions receive the strongest sunlight and are the best options for solar panel placement.

• Properly maintain trees that are already planted, to prevent solar panel damage. Regular tree trimming will minimize neighbor disputes and protect PV panels.

• Remove dying trees, which pose a threat to nearby structures including solar-paneled roofs. Tree removal is recommended for unstable, unhealthy trees.

Trees south of the house can actually reduce the amout of solar light in the winter. To provide a corrider of winter sunlight, plant trees forty-five degrees from the southeast and southwest corners of the house. You’ll need a compass to determine solar south. Then determine the forty-five degree angle. Use the other illustration to choose the best trees with deciduous branches to let light in during the winter.
All limbs and branches block the sun, it’s just not all noticable. Here we see that trees like the ginkgo and pecan only block 30 percent of the sunlight. All others 40 percent or above. And a tree like the alder blocks nearly 90 percent  of the light.


NOTE: This is an exerpt from my new book Lazy-Ass Gardening. Order it here.





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