The free solar energy that hits the Earth each day can keep us warm, light our homes, grow our food, and generate clean renewable electricity, so we often invite it into our lives. But when the weather heats up in the summer, the sun can actually cause us to use more energy, because we then need to run air conditioners to cool us back down.
The good news is there’s a really simple way to keep our homes cool and energy bills low: planting shade trees! If you plant a big old leafy tree in the right location around your home, you can block the sun from heating your walls and the roof during the hottest times of the day. In fact, according to one research forester, simply planting a tree on the west side of a house can reduce net carbon emissions from summertime electricity use by 30 percent over a 100-year period.
Now the question is: what kind of tree should you plant? One option is the Nuttall Oak, the fastest growing variety of the oak. This tree can provide not only a leafy canopy, but a steady supply of acorns each year, which are devoured by squirrels, deer, and turkeys. The Red Maple is another good option as it provides lots of shades and turns a vibrant red during the autumn months.
If these trees don’t tickle your fancy, have a look at some other shade trees right here.