Energy-saving trees don’t ask for much -- dirt, water, sunlight.
Yet they provide a wealth of benefits: Energy-saving trees improve the air you breathe, cut your heating and cooling bills, provide a home to wildlife, and they add beauty and value to your home in the form of curb appeal.
The Financial Benefit of Energy-Saving Trees
The most tangible bang from your bark comes from energy savings. Trees properly placed around your home can reduce your air conditioning needs by 30% and save 20% to 50% in heating costs, according to the USDA Forest Service. The U.S. Department of Energy says three properly placed trees could save you $100 to $250 a year.
Plus, says the Forest Service, healthy, mature trees add an average of 10% to your home’s value.
How much value does a single tree typically add to your home? According to the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service in Indiana, a 15¾-foot-wide silver maple in good health could be worth $2,562.
More mature, healthy trees can add even more value. For example, trees added an average of $8,870 to a home’s sale price in Portland, and decreased its time on the market by two days, according to a 2010 Forest Service study.
Of course, tree value depends on size, species, location, and condition.
Do's and Don'ts to Get the Most Value from Trees
- Plant deciduous trees on the west side of a house to provide cooling shade in the summer and warming daylight in the winter they lose their leaves.
- Plant evergreens on the north side of your home to block icy winter winds.
- Think about the tree's full-grown size and shape before you dig.
- Plant below power lines. Falling trees and branches can cause power outages.
- Plant too close to your home’s foundation. Roots can damage the foundation or block sewer lines.
- The wrong tree in the wrong place could actually lower your home’s appraised value if it’s deemed hazardous, says Frank Lucco, a real estate appraiser with IRR-Residential in Houston.
Expect to pay $50 to $100 for a 6- to 7-foot deciduous tree, such as a katsura or evergreen. The same tree at 15 feet will cost $100 to $200, according to Brad Swank of Molbak’s Nursery in Woodinville, Wash. The Arbor Day Foundation sells saplings for as little as $8 to $20, or less if you’re a member.
Since trees cost money, be cautious about any home construction work. “Tree failure can happen seven to 10 years after construction, primarily because the root system fails when the soil is compacted,” says Thomas Hanson, a member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists from Kirkland, Wash. Also watch for diseases or pests that can threaten trees in your yard and community.