While solar panels are an excellent way to significantly reduce energy costs—as well as indoor upgrades like windows, lights, and appliances—energy efficient landscaping is often overlooked.
But that's a shame, because it can save a significant amount of money while being beautiful too. That's not to mention reducing carbon footprints. Read on to discover some eco-friendly landscaping options that can go a long way.
More Vegetation Reduces Cooling Costs
Tree shade can reduce ground temperature by as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. But, amazingly, the actual air temperature lowers by five degrees or more through what's called evapotranspiration. That's where the plants move and release water vapor, which cools the air itself. The combination of the two can surround your home in cooler air, which reduces indoor energy costs – as well as makes outdoor recreation more enjoyable.
You know the climbing vines you often see taking up the sides of houses? Those are taking in, moving, and emitting water vapor to lower the temperature. At the same time, they're blocking a good portion of the solar radiation. So they don't just look appealing, they're serving an energy efficient landscaping function.
Wind Breaks Reduce Heating Costs
Perhaps not as significant for those in the San Diego region, wind chill can be a major factor when keeping a home heated in cool and cold parts of the country. But that ocean breeze isn't always warm, and the dead air space beneath trees ideal for breaking the wind isolate your home. Just like you should wear as many layers as possible when there's a winter wind chill warning, a lawn with good wind breakage is protected by layers of trees.
For example, pine and cypress trees can grow close together, creating a wall of green around a property. At the same time, camphor and oak trees can grow tall, wide, and low, making for great wind blockers as stand-alone options.
Water-Efficient Lawns Cut Consumption
The San Diego climate makes it wildly easy to create a water-efficient lawn (compared to most of the US). It's known as xeriscaping, or landscaping with the primary goal of reducing or eliminating irrigation requirements. Groundcover plants that thrive in temperate or arid conditions lay the foundation for as many colorful touches as you like – and it all needs up to 75 percent less water than traditional grass. In fact, it might not need any watering at all.
Consider talking to a San Diego landscaping professional about your xeriscaping options. Or, hey, dive in and DIY! Life's all about doing more you.
Recycled Water Treatment Systems
In the same vein as xeriscaping, a recycled water treatment system can refilter your wastewater and use it for irrigation. It's an investment, but it can pay for itself in the long run depending on your watering needs.
Fire Safe Landscaping
Funny enough, many fire-retardant and fire-resistant plants are also used for water-efficient landscaping because they're low to the ground while retaining a significant amount of water. Dry plants that produce sap, on the other hand, love igniting into flames. Consider only planting species native to the region, as invasive species of plants are often prone to fire as well as drought.
Energy Efficient Roofing
Getting the roof redone is no small consideration. People often save or take out a loan to get it done. But don't let the San Diego weather fool you into thinking your roof is fine as is. By upgrading your roof, you can save some serious cash on the part of your home least likely to be protected by shade.
Common to California for obvious (earthquake-related) reasons, shake shingles are extremely durable while also improving air circulation. However, they often need more maintenance than asphalt shingles, which also cost less. But shake shingles are hard to top for energy efficiency, and San Diego's lack of inclement weather makes their maintenance minimal compared to (almost all) other parts of the country.
Free Grants & Specialty Loans to Get Started
Check out these free programs listed on the San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE) website, where both renters and homeowners can apply for Energy Savings Assistance. This can include things like attic insulation, new lighting, and beyond.
You can also apply for a Green Living Loan from MyPoint Credit Union, with flexible payment schedules and low rates.
Your future is in your hands. From planting a tree to ground-up renovations, it's possible to make a difference. Are you ready to get doing?