AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Earth Day 2020 finds many people at home spending time in the yard and dreaming up landscaping plans involving new trees and shrubs.
To help ensure area residents choose the right kind of tree for the arid plains of Texas and New Mexico, Xcel Energy offers a tree planting guide that offers suggestions of the best varieties to plant, along with information on how the placement of trees and shrubs near homes and businesses can help reduce energy costs.
“As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, we know it’s a little different this year for all of us. No matter what is going on in the world, we are here to keep clean energy flowing to our customers and to help them get the most from their energy dollar,” said Brad Baldridge, director of Customer and Community Relations for Xcel Energy in Amarillo.
Carefully designed landscaping is one of the most cost-effective, long-term investments available to reduce energy costs, and can pay for itself in energy savings in seven to 10 years. Shaded surfaces may be 20 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the peak temperatures outside of the shade. Planting the right kind of trees around homes and businesses takes the edge off a hot day and prevents air conditioning units from cycling as often. Not only does this ease the strain on the equipment, it saves on monthly electric bills as well.
Information on where to plant trees and which varieties thrive in this region can be found in the Sustainable Landscaping section of xcelenergy.com by selecting the Customer Support link and navigating to the Vegetation Management page. Among the tips customers can find are:
- Shade west walls and windows with deciduous (leaf-shedding) trees that create shade in the summer and, after leaves fall off, allow sunlight to warm the home in the winter.
- Plant vines and shrubs next to the home to create a blanket of air space that insulates outside walls in winter and summer. A trellis with climbing vines or a planter box with trailing plants can form screens that block the sun yet allow cooling breezes to flow through.
- Plant low shrubs and ground covers around the home to reduce reflection of solar heat from roads, driveways, walks, patios or water.
- Plant trees and shrubs to shade air conditioning units from the sun, helping them to run up to 10% more efficiently. Be sure branches and leaves don’t restrict airflow.
Trees and shrubs should be planted 15 to 35 feet from utility lines, and never directly below overhead utility lines. Keeping utility lines free of tree growth helps to ensure customer safety, the reliability of service and could save on the cost of future tree maintenance.
Xcel Energy also is reminding customers that April is National Safe Digging month, and before taking on any landscaping projects such as tree planting, customers should call 811 before digging to ensure no
underground utilities will be damaged in the process.
And while customers are waiting for landscaping investments to pay off, they can also lower monthly bills in a variety of means that make homes and businesses more energy efficient. From the xcelenergy.com homepage, customers can select the Programs and Rebates link to find energy-saving tips and information on efficiency programs the company offers across its eight-state service territory.