Smart Landscaping

Smart landscaping is an easy, cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing way to lower your home energy costs. Strategically positioned trees can save up to 25% of a household’s energy consumption for heating and cooling. Shading an air conditioning unit can increase its efficiency by up to 10%. On average, a well-designed landscape creates enough energy savings to pay for itself in less than 8 years.

Trimmed shrubs

Climates & Microclimates

Specific landscaping strategies and planting tips will vary by region and microclimate. A microclimate is a small or large area where the climate differs from the surrounding area, and impacts the type of plants that can grow in your landscape.

Row of trees creating a windbreak


A windbreak reduces heating costs by lowering the wind chill around your home. It also insulates your home in the summer and winter.

Residential yard with plenty of shade from trees


Planting trees, bushes or shrubs to shade windows, roofs and air conditioners helps reduce solar heat gain in your home, surrounding air temperatures and overall energy costs.

Start designing your energy-saving property.

You probably welcome the heat from the sun on those cold winter days, however, in the summer that solar heat can cause air conditioners to work harder and contribute to higher costs on your energy bill. Planting trees, bushes or shrubs outside your home to shade windows, roofs and air conditioners can reduce surrounding air temperatures and help keep energy costs down. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, shading an air conditioner can increase its efficiency by as much as 10%. The best type of tree to use will depend on your shading needs and the size, density and shape of the tree.

Front of a large home during fall with a tree in the front yard

You can block the wind chill from your house and reduce heating costs in the winter by planting trees and shrubs around your home to create windbreaks. The most common type of windbreak is planted to the north and northwest of the home using dense trees with low crowns that block wind close to the ground. Windbreaks planted 2 to 5 times the mature height of the trees away from the home will provide maximum wind chill protection. You can also plant shrubs, bushes and vines closer (leaving at least 1 foot of space between the full-grown plant and your house) to create dead air spaces that insulate your home in both winter and summer.

Front of a home with shrubs and trees planted to create a windbreak

The most energy-efficient landscaping plan for your home will vary based on your climate. Below are strategies for the most common regional climate categories in the U.S. But keep in mind it’s also important to have an understanding of your microclimate and whether your location receives more sun, shade, wind, rain, snow, moisture and/or dryness than average local conditions.

Temperate Region

Take advantage of the warming effects of the sun in the winter. Maximize shade during the summer. Deflect winter winds away from buildings using windbreaks. Tunnel summer breezes toward the home.

Sidewalk in a residential area with plenty of trees creating shade

Hot-Arid Region

Plant shade to cool roofs, walls, and windows. Allow summer winds to access naturally cooled homes. Block or deflect winds away from air-conditioned homes.

Large home in a hot-arid region

Hot-Humid Region

Tunnel summer breezes toward the home. Maximize summer shade with trees that still allow penetration of low-angle winter sun.

Large home in a hot-humid region

Cool Region

Use dense windbreaks to protect the home from cold winter winds. Allow the winter sun to reach south-facing windows. Shade south and west windows and walls from the direct summer sun.

Home in winter covered in snow

Curtains & Blinds

Keep curtains or blinds open during the day to let sunlight in during the winter.

Person adjusting the blinds on a window in their home

Radiator Reflectors

Place heat-resistant radiator reflectors between your exterior walls and radiators.

Ventilating Fans

Run kitchen, bathroom and other ventilating fans for no longer than 20 minutes to retain heated air in the winter.

Person adjusting the setting on a ventilating fan in the kitchen

Fireplace Dampers

Close fireplace dampers when not in use so controlled air doesn’t escape.

Living room with gothcing style furniture and fireplace