When asked, pretty much anyone could come up with at least a couple of ways that plants benefit our lives. For one thing, they’re attractive, and studies have shown that being surrounded by greenery helps most people to feel relaxed and happy. And the fact that they pump out life-giving oxygen and suck up carbon dioxide (not to mention toxins in the air) is certainly a point in their favor. Plants can also give us food, shelter, and a nice place to put a swing or a tree house. But what most homeowners don’t know is that plants can also contribute to their conservation efforts. In fact, there are several ways that you can utilize plant life in and around your home to reduce your overall energy consumption and make your interior living spaces more comfortable. Here are a few reasons to add plants to the mix.
The first place to draw your attention is to the plants outsider your home, and believe it or not, your landscaping choices can have a significant impact on your energy consumption. Think for a moment about the ways that heat enters and leaves your home. During the summer months, the heat of the sun comes in through the windows and the attic space primarily. During the winter it leaks out around doors, windows, and vents and escapes through cracks in your structure. While you can certainly take steps to combat these issues, closing the drapes and increasing attic insulation for the summer and hiring a home energy auditor to point out leaks and lapses in insulation that you can patch up for the winter, you might also want to consider the role plants can play.
Trees, vines, and shrubs can add an extra layer of insulation to protect your home from the outside elements. Trees, in particular, offer dual-season functionality. During the summer, tall trees can help to shade your home from the sun. You know how nice it is to sit under a tree when the sun is overhead, and the same principle applies to your house. When placed correctly, trees can provide shade for your roof and even your windows, allowing you to open the drapes and preserve your view without worrying about the sun’s heat-producing rays getting in and placing more demand on your AC unit. They can also act as a windbreak in areas that get inclement winter weather.
Then, of course, there are the plants in your home, and they can offer some energy-efficient benefits, as well. Consider, for instance, the quality of your interior air. If you can’t open the windows for months at a time due to extreme weather conditions outdoors (either hot or cold), chances are you have fans running even when your furnace or AC unit is idling, simply because you need to increase air flow so that your interior atmosphere doesn’t get stagnant. Plants can help you here by absorbing pollutants and carbon dioxide and filling your home with fresh oxygen, reducing your demand for constantly-running fans for ventilation.
You might call in professional help for everything from water purification services and benefits to maintaining and optimizing HVAC usage. But there’s also a lot you can do on your own, and understanding the role plants can play in reducing your energy consumption can definitely help you to cut your carbon footprint and lower energy bills, while also beautifying your space.