Installing an air conditioning system is an example of using an active cooling system to cool your home. Active systems use an electrical current, so you not only have to pay for the one-time installation cost, but you also have to pay for ongoing operating costs. While you should have an active cooling system to keep your home cool, you should also take advantage of passive cooling systems, which do not require an electrical current to operate, in order to reduce the load on and boost the function of your AC system. Planting shade trees around your home is a good example of a passive cooling system.
How Trees Cool a Home
Trees keep a home cool in the following two ways:
1. Shade from trees is probably the most obvious example of how they cool a home. What is important to remember about shade is that the trees are absorbing the sun's rays and using them in photosynthesis before those rays have a chance to fall on and be absorbed by the walls and roof of your home. Trees also stop the sun's rays before they stream in through your windows and heat up the interior of your home. Experts estimate that simply shading your home and AC unit can cut your cooling costs by up to 50%.
2. Trees can also boost the function of your AC system by a process known as evapotranspiration, which is the process by which trees release water vapor into the surrounding air. This water vapor then absorbs heat from the air, and cools it. The cooler air then settles into your yard and provides a high volume of cool air to your AC unit's condenser coils, which can boost their function by up to 10%.
You might be thinking that tree shade sounds beneficial but after planting a tree you could have to wait a decade or more to reap benefits. After all, don't trees take forever to get to their mature height? Not necessarily. Poplar trees, for example, can grow as much as 10 feet in a year. In just three years, you could have a 30-40 foot tall tree that would provide ample shade to your home. Other examples of fast-growing trees include eucalyptus and weeping willow. By planting a few of these trees in strategic locations around your yard, you could start reaping benefits in just a few short years.
In order to improve the function of your AC system, you need to realize that it is not a stand-alone system. Instead, you should look at it as just one part of your overall cooling strategy. As this article indicates, trees can play an important role in boosting the function of your AC system, so they too should be part of your home cooling strategy.