Trees and Energy Conservation

In addition to improving our air quality, trees help us to conserve energy. Energy conservation is great for the environment and your wallet!

Trees help to trap heat in the cold winter and cool us down in the summer, meaning that we can cut down on both our heating and air conditioning bills.

How do they do it? In the winter, trees act as buffers against the icy wind. Wind is a major cause of heat loss from buildings in the winter, forcing us to turn up our furnaces to stay warm. If planted in the right places near homes and other buildings, trees can reduce this heat loss, saving energy.

In the summer, trees have the opposite effect, cooling us down through a variety of methods. Again, their wind buffering effect comes into play, but this time the trees are shielding buildings from warm air.

Trees also provide shade, making it bearable to sit outside and preventing all the hard surfaces (sidewalks, roads, buildings) in the city from absorbing the sun’s energy and heating up. Finally, the leaves of trees act as mini air conditioners, evaporating moisture from their surfaces and absorbing heat in the process. According to the Urban Forestry Network, moisture evaporation due to one large tree can have the same effect as 10 room-sized air conditioners running all day!

Remember, it’s all about putting the right tree in the right place. The energy conservation benefits vary depending on where you plant the tree, and increase exponentially with the size of the tree. There are lots of resources out there to help you figure out how to get the most out of your urban forest. So before you plant a tree, do your research!