Shading Strategies for AC Savings

Published on: July 23, 2014
Piggy bank wearing glasses | AC Southeast®

Heating and air conditioning account for almost half of all home energy usage. There are effective ways to reduce energy usage and lower utility bills without sacrificing comfort. Some strategies like using shade trees and plants in outdoor landscaping improve the aesthetic appeal of a property and lower temperatures both inside and outside the building. Other strategies like using low-e windows and thermal curtains keep the sun’s heat from entering the building. A cooler building shell requires less air conditioning and uses less energy.

Benefits of Outdoor Landscaping

Proper landscaping can cut heating and cooling costs by up to 50 percent. Numerous studies document the energy benefits of planting trees and vegetation around a building to achieve cooler temperatures. Trees absorb water through their roots and release water vapor through their leaves, a process that reduces nearby air temperatures by up to 9 degrees. Air temperatures beneath trees can be up to 25 degrees cooler than unshaded pavement.

Shading walls with trellises, vines and other vegetation can reduce exterior wall temperatures by between 9 and 36 degrees. Cooler walls transmit less heat to the interior, which reduces the load on air conditioning. Planting shrubs and other plants around the foundation of a building lowers outside temperatures around the structure, contributing to air conditioning efficiency.

Window Treatments to Reduce Energy Usage

Approximately 2 percent of all energy used in the U.S. is from heat transfer through windows in residential buildings. Shading windows and preventing solar gain by using thermally improved window materials and coatings can reduce the cooling load by up to 50 percent. Shades, blinds, thermal curtains and low-e windows all reduce solar heat gain. Triple-pane glass with low-e coatings can save more than 40 percent on cooling costs. Reducing load increases air conditioning efficiency. Sizing of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can be significantly reduced by using energy efficient windows, even in very hot climates.

Air Conditioner Placement for Energy Efficiency

Where your heating and cooling equipment is placed can affect energy efficiency. Shading outdoor components can increase air conditioning efficiency by up to 10 percent. Trees and shrubs used to provide shade should be planted at least 3 feet from the unit so that air flow is not impeded. Leave an opening for access for repair and maintenance. In hot climates, don’t place the unit on the south side of a building, which gets more summer sun. Keep the area around the unit trimmed so that grass, leaves and debris are not blown into the compressor. Dirt and debris affect efficiency.

Energy Efficiency and Air Conditioning 

Our HVAC contractors service all makes and models of heating and cooling equipment. By visiting your home or business and evaluating the unique conditions of your site, technicians will recommend appropriate energy efficient equipment and energy-saving measures that can dramatically reduce energy usage and utility bills. Calculation of load to size a new HVAC system looks at:

  • Number and placement of doors and windows
  • Amount of shade
  • Landscaping
  • Size of building
  • Amount of insulation
  • Climate of the region

Both oversized and undersized air conditioners use more energy. A unit that is too large will not remove humidity. One that is too small will cycle on and off too frequently, eventually overworking the compressor.

If you would like an energy assessment of your home or want to improve energy efficiency in your building, give us a call. Our contractors serve a five state area including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina.