Last fall Auburn University completed a yearlong study of 160 homes, “discovering” what people have known for years – it’s cooler in the shade! But what the study uncovered was exactly how much that little bit of coolness is worth.
After analyzing power bills, exact shade coverage, electricity usage habits, square footage, type of air conditioning, appliances, roofing, exterior material and other factors, Professor David LeGrand used local power rates to determine that homeowners could save as much as 11.4 percent with only 17 percent “heavy” shade coverage. The comparison was made with homes having zero shade.
Even landscaping with a few trees can make a significant difference. Homes with just 50 percent “light” shade can expect to save 10.3 percent on their electricity bill.
If your summertime electricity bill hovers in the $200-$250 range (like mine), you could be saving $100 or more in just a few months by planting a tree or two. That tree then becomes what financial planners call a “stream of income.” You get it every year! Who knew that trees could be a way to make extra money?
Of course, trees also provide beauty and increase property values. Those numbers aren’t as easily quantifiable but real estate experts will tell you that treeless homes are more difficult to market than homes with plenty of nature’s air conditioners.
So the next time you wonder what that giant old oak, that grove of maples, or a few birches, spruces, or firs are worth to your budget, now you know!