Buying, watering and caring for a tree is an investment. But trees actually can save homeowners money. Here are a few ways trees produce a return on your investment:
Trees Save Energy
There’s a reason so many cities have renewed efforts to plant more trees. Even the City of Phoenix has a Tree and Shade Master Plan that aims to have 25% shade cover throughout the area by 2030 to help counteract the heat island effect (see details here)
Trees have a cooling effect and can counter some of the heat generated by asphalt, concrete and other city structures. In summer heat, a well-placed tree can save a homeowner $100 to $250 each year. When you place a nice, full tree where it will cast cooling shade on the southwestern side of your home – especially onto west-facing windows – you can substantially cut the costs of cooling one or more rooms in your home. Plus, having dinner or relaxing under the shade of a tree, especially with a nice desert breeze, can help you leave the indoor thermostat up a little longer.
Summer energy costs are higher in the low desert but placing a deciduous tree (a tree that drops its leaves in winter) on the south or southwest side of your home gives you all-important cooling in summer and still allows sun to warm the home’s side or windows in winter. This also might lower use of the heater when cold fronts move in during winter.
Also, a group of evergreen trees can serve as a windbreak all year long when placed between your house and the direction of the prevailing winds.
Trees Shade Plants
Hardy native plants can take low desert heat, but many benefit from peak afternoon shade from a nearby tree for a break. The tree might save on your landscape water bill or at least minimize the cost of replacing burnt plants.
Trees Can Provide Food
Fruit trees in varieties that can thrive and produce in our desert heat can provide food for your family. Care for your pomegranate trees and get both shade and healthy fruit without a trip to the grocery store. Afternoon shade from a well-placed tree onto the garden also can help extend the season of tomatoes, herbs or other food for your family.
Trees Add to Curb Appeal
Even though homebuyers might not consciously look for trees as part of their home search, having a nicely placed tree or two in the front yard adds to curb appeal. It’s easy for potential buyers to see how the tree shades the driveway or creates a comfortably shaded sitting area, for example.
Property values of landscaped homes can be up to 20 percent higher than similar homes without landscaping. Just be careful to choose a tree that is low maintenance and meets HOA guidelines for best home value benefit.
Trees Help Your Health
It might be a finer line from planting a tree to saving money on health care, but some studies show trees can relieve stress, speed recovery from illness and lower health risks in urban areas. Having trees can help reduce traffic noise or cut headache-producing glare. And caring for a tree and landscape can boost family activity levels.
Invest in the right tree to save home energy costs, and then invest a little more in properly caring for your tree. You’ll be rewarded with some money savings and plenty of other benefits.