Conserve Energy by Planting Trees

Planting the right tree in the right place is one of the best ways to minimize tree trimming in your neighborhood. This means planting taller growing trees away from overhead utilities. You’ll also provide trouble-free beauty for years to come, reduce fire hazards, increase your property value and help beautify the community.   

Not only do trees provide privacy, beauty and homes for many animals, planting the right tree in the right place can also save you money on your electric bill. It is very important to research different types of trees and plant them in a location that will benefit your home. 

Choosing the Right Tree

There are two basic types of trees: evergreen and deciduous. Evergreens maintain their foliage all year while deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall. Both can grow tall or be shrub-like. Both types also help conserve energy during the warmer months and naturally cool the air as water in their leaves evaporate. 

Deciduous trees provide shade in the summer, helping keep your home cooler. In the winter, when the leaves are gone, the trees allow the sun to warm your home. 

Evergreen trees can save energy by acting as a wind barrier. In the winter, dense evergreen shrubs and trees help keep cold winds from entering your home.

Choosing the Right Place 

When choosing a tree, be sure and find out the tree’s mature height as well as its limb span. Always look up to make sure the top of the tree will not grow into power lines. Taller trees (minimum mature height of 25 feet) should be located 10 to 20 feet away from your home. Look down to note the location of sidewalks, driveways and structural foundations which may conflict with the growing trunk or roots. Call 811 ahead of time to locate any underground utilities that may cause problems when you dig. A good rule of thumb is to plant a tree a minimum of ½ the length of its estimated mature limb span from any structure. 

Right Tree Right Place
1. Plant tall trees (40 feet or taller) such as maple, oak, spruce and pine, at least 50 feet away from electric poles. 2. Plant medium trees (40 feet in height or less) such as Washington hawthorn and golden raintree, 20-50 feet away from electric poles. 3. Plant small trees (25 feet in height or less) such as redbud, dogwood, and crabapple, at least 20 feet away from electric poles. 4. Tree pruning zone 

On the east side of your home: For lower electric bills in the summer, place deciduous trees on the east-facing side of your home to provide shade from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. 

On the west side of your home: Place deciduous tree on the west-facing side of your home to provide shade from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.  

On the north side of your home: For additional shading, smaller trees (with lower limbs) can be placed on the northeast and northwest sides of your house. 

On the south side of your home: Our Florida sun rises in the southeast and sets in the southwest. Planting a tree on the south side of your home can maximize the shading impact to your home. When planting your tree, consider the potential size of the tree when at mature height and spread. An arborist and/or urban forester can help answer questions about selecting and planting a tree. 

Create protection from wind: Most cold winds come from the north and west, so dense evergreen trees and shrubbery are best located on the north, northwest and west areas of your home. Plant smaller/narrow shaped trees at least 6 feet apart and larger trees about 15 feet apart to create a wind break. Plant shrubs about 2 feet apart. The trees and shrubs do not need to be planted close to your home because typically the wind protection can be up to 20 times the height of the shrub/tree. 

Other Considerations for Landscaping With a Purpose

Pavement: During the warmer months, keep in mind that the darker the pavement, the more the heat energy from the sun is absorbed, which in turn heats the air above the pavement. Lighter pavement absorbs less heat, but reflects the heat. In both cases, your home or office will be warmer as a result. Placing trees to shade pavement reduces the heat absorption and heat reflection and uses this energy for evaporation. 

Appliances: To encourage the efficiency of your HVAC system, plant trees to shade the outdoor units, however make sure to have several feet of clearance around the units for air flow. 

Utility Rights of Way: Plant the right shrubs around JEA transformers, too. Woody plants, ornamental grasses, shrubs and trees must be kept at least 15 feet from the front of the pad and at least 3 feet from the sides and back of the pad. This allows our crews to inspect and maintain transformers. It also allows us to restore your power faster in an emergency.

If you ever have any questions on choosing a tree, where best to plant your tree, or which trees would be best for conserving energy, please email us at

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