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How to Maximize Energy Savings with Trees

Strategically placed shade trees - a minimum of three large trees around your home - can reduce air conditioning costs up to 30 percent. Plant deciduous trees, which shed their leaves during the winter, on the south and west sides of buildings. These trees provide shade and block heat during hotter months. By dropping their leaves in the fall they admit sunlight in the colder months.

Shade all hard surfaces such as driveways, patios and sidewalks to minimize landscape heat load.

Plant evergreen trees, which retain their leaves/needles yearlong, in a planned pattern. They will serve as windbreaks to save from 10 to 50 percent in energy used for heating. Evergreens offer the best benefits when you:

  • Usually place them on the north side of your home to intercept and slow winter winds.
  • Do not plant them on the south or west side of your home, because they will block warming sunlight during the winter. These trees also provide some shading benefits during summer.

Get professional assistance to assure correct selection of species and their placement to maximize energy savings.


To help residents use trees to save energy and money.

Program at a Glance

Program Title: How to Maximize Energy Savings with Trees
Agency: District Department of Transportation
Office: Urban Forestry Administration (UFA)
Type: Outreach and Education
Phone: (202) 671-5133

*With contributions courtesy of the USDA Forest Service