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Today's News and Features

Landscape Windbreaks to Cut Energy Costs

Thursday, June 14, 2018

By John Voket Recently, a U.S. Dept. of Energy educational campaign unveiled a legion of ways landscape windbreaks can help homeowners save even more on their energy costs.

According to a report from the agency at energy.gov, wind protection - or windbreaks - not only reduce heating costs considerably from the moment they are planted or installed, but the benefits from windbreaks will increase as the trees and shrubs mature.

A windbreak reduces heating costs by lowering the wind chill near your home.

The report states that a windbreak will reduce wind speed for a distance of as much as 30 times the windbreak's height. But for maximum protection, the agency advises you to plant your windbreak at a distance from your home of two to five times the mature height of the trees.

The best windbreaks block wind close to the ground by using trees and shrubs that have low crowns. Dense evergreen trees and shrubs planted to the north and northwest of the home are the most common type of windbreak.

Evergreen trees combined with a wall, fence, or earth berm (natural or man-made walls or raised areas of soil) can deflect or lift the wind over the home. Just be careful not to plant evergreens too close to your home's south side if you want to collect passive solar heat from the winter sun, the agency states.

If snow tends to drift in your area, plant low shrubs on the windward side of your windbreak. The shrubs will trap snow before it blows next to your home.

In addition to more distant windbreaks, planting shrubs, bushes, and vines next to your house creates dead air spaces that insulate your home in both winter and summer.

Plant so there will be at least one foot (30 centimeters) of space between full-grown plants and your home's wall.

Summer winds, especially at night, can have a cooling effect if used for home ventilation. However, if winds are hot and your home is air conditioned all summer, you may want to keep summer winds from circulating near your home.

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