Anyone who has lived in Texas or has ever visited during the summer will be able to tell you how unbearable the summers are. Summer is longer here than other states, and sometimes there will be weeks of back to back triple digit temperatures. Unlike other places in the US, nearly every home in Texas comes equipped with central air conditioning, and even then many still have ceiling fans running continuously to help bring the temperature down. Because of this, energy costs due to air conditioning are enormous in Texas, but an easy way to save is by planting trees around your home.
The US Department of Energy has published guidelines to follow when deciding where to plant a tree in order to provide the maximum amount of energy savings. The air temperature directly under shade trees can be up to 25 degrees cooler than surrounding pavement, and even the unshaded areas around trees can be up to 6 degrees cooler simply due to the trees releasing water vapor. The best trees for cooling your home during the summer are deciduous trees planted to the south because they will block harsh summer sunlight but still allow light through in the winter. If you live in cold climates, bushy evergreen trees that will not lose their leaves in the winter are ideal for blocking biting winds. The DoE also recommends planting slow-growing trees even if it may take a few years to completely shade the roof of your home because they generally live longer than fast-growing ones and have stronger root networks that can withstand strong winds and snow build up. Also, native trees are preferred, because they require less maintenance and are less likely to push out other native species. It’s not only trees that can assist in lowering energy costs; creeping vines on trellises can shade a patio area, and bushes and shrubs can shade hot, concrete walkways.
Before you immediately rush out to plant new trees, it is also important to consider other climate factors. The East Texas coast suffers from hurricanes, and having trees too close to you home may be a hazard in case of heavy winds. If you live in central and west Texas, you may want to take advantage of these dry areas by installing solar panels, in which case you would want to change the placements of your trees so that your solar panels can get the most sunlight. If you’re unsure of how to go about placing your trees, tree care in Austin and elsewhere in the state can help you.
Even though enduring the Texas heat can be a challenge, you can make it much easier on yourself by planting shade trees around you home. In addition to the energy savings, you may also be raising the property value of your home at the same time and promoting your psychological well-being. However you want to look at it, the few hundred dollars you spend on planting trees is an excellent investment.