Plant trees whose shade can help keep your house cool during the summer months. When their leaves fall in the winter, the bare branches will let sunlight through to help warm your home. Jill Cordes explains. (Courtesy: Brighter Living)



Think of an island and you might picture a beautiful, tropical vacation spot. But there’s another type of island called a “heat island,” which occurs when suburban and urban temperatures are two to ten degrees hotter than nearby rural areas. Planting vegetation and trees are simple and effective ways to reduce those heat islands and save money on cooling costs. Trees and vegetation cool the air by providing shade, and through the evaporation of water from leaves. Shaded walls outside may be nine to thirty-six degrees cooler than unshaded surfaces, which helps reduce the need for air conditioning on the inside. When you plant, plant strategically. Deciduous trees, or ones that shed their leaves annually, work well to help shade hot summer sun. When their leaves fall in the winter, they allow sunlight through to help warm your house, saving you money on heating bills. Trees placed to the west and southwest of homes to shade windows and walls led to a cooling cost savings of between seven and forty percent. Now that’s a green way to stay cool in the summer. I’m Jill Cordes.