Planting saplings around your home can produce both shade and energy savings once the trees mature. With some research and planning, you can choose the right trees and plant them in the right place to keep your home cool for many summers to come.
“Planting a small sapling is a low-cost investment that can deliver long-term energy savings,” said Michelle Dunn, Program Manager for UniSource Energy Services. “After just five years of planting, the tree will grow to produce shade to reduce energy costs.”
UniSource’s Trees for You program offers electric customers rebates for the purchase of up to two qualified desert-adapted trees from a local nursery. The rebates are given in the form of a $15 credit on your electric bill for each five-gallon or larger tree purchased. Residents of homes built before 1980 or with single-pane windows can claim rebates for up to four trees.
Trees reduce radiant heat and solar heat gain by releasing water vapor, which can reduce the surrounding air temperature by as much as 6 degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Because cool air settles near the ground, the air temperature under trees can be up to 25 degrees cooler. Trees also reduce greenhouse gases, create habitats for wildlife and beautify your home.
Before you go tree shopping, there are several things you need to consider before selecting and planting trees.
- Growth rate – To reap energy savings sooner, choose trees that will grow and mature quickly. Palo verde, acacia and Arizona ash are just three of the fastest-growing desert trees.
- Height and width – Round and V-shaped trees provide the most shade, but avoid trees that will be too tall or wide when they mature and may grow into power lines, chimneys or your home.
- Deciduous or evergreen – Deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the fall block solar heat in the summer, but let in the sun’s warmth in the winter. Denser evergreens, on the other hand, help block strong winds and snow in the winter to keep your home warmer.
Early spring and late fall are the best times to plant trees to encourage root development and their survival. To maximize energy savings and qualify for the rebate, plant trees within 15 feet of the south, east or west sides of your home and a minimum of 10 feet away from sewer lines and 3 feet from other utility lines.
Remember to call Arizona 811 (formerly Arizona Blue Stake) at 1-800-STAKE-IT (1-800-782-5348) at least two working days before you dig.
Since 2008, almost 7,000 trees have been planted through the UniSource program. Customers who planted trees at the beginning of our program have been enjoying the energy saving benefits of trees for at least five years. Trees as small as 6-feet can begin providing shade in the first year.
Even if you don’t plan on staying in your home, planting trees beautifies your landscaping and makes your home more attractive when you do decide to sell.