As the summer sun slowly starts to peak over the horizon, many Texans will be traversing indoors this year to experience that little bit of modern magic we like to call air-conditioning.
AC isn't just a luxury it's a life-saver, especially in urban settings. However, that doesn't mean there aren't some downfalls. Aside from their contribution to green house gases, old filters and inefficient machines can actually make you sick, and paying for your AC can be expensive, especially when you're cooling down an entire household. However, there are ways to improve the quality and affordability of your AC system without changing a thing about it. Just add plants!
Plants Improve Air Quality
There are so many benefits plants have on our health and well-being. They can decrease stress, increase happiness, improve our mental health, and improve the quality of the air we breath.
We all know, from grade school, that plants convert CO2, water, and light energy into sugars leaving Oxygen as a byproduct. But, you may not have realized all the air pollutants that get filtered out along the way. In a clean air study published by NASA in 1989 they conducted research on over a dozen tropical and subtropical plant species to see their affect on the levels of harmful organic compounds commonly found in household air. This included trichloroethylene, formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia. The experiments proved to be a great success. Nearly all the plants were shown to remove at least 10% of a given chemical within a 24 hour period with some removing as much as 80%.
AC units filter particulates out of the air like pollen, dust, and dirt. However, they limit our use of outdoor ventilation and can allow for a buildup of indoor pollutants. By utilizing plants natural processes, house plants can be used in conjunction with clean air filters to considerably improve the quality of the air we breath.
Plants save you money
Improving the landscaping on the outside of your house can decrease the amount of money you need to spend cooling it. You just need to know what kind of plants to grow and where.
Through various studies complied by the EPA, shading and evapotranspiration provided by trees were shown to reduce the surrounding air temperature by 6 degrees Fahrenheit cutting cooling costs by 7-47%. To accomplish this you should plant trees on the east and west side of your building to direct southerly summer breezes towards the house. To get the most shade plant deciduous trees with a high crown on the east side of your building and deciduous trees with a lower crown on the west side. Ideally, the trees should be slow-growing with a max height of at least 20 feet. Deciduous trees with a high crown block more sun from above in the morning, as the sun begins to set a lower crown is better to block the hot afternoon rays. Because the trees are deciduous, they will create shade in summer and allow the sun to heat your home in winter. Evergreen shrubs and trees are great to use as a wind break and can be planted on the northern side of your home to block cold fronts from making things too chilly.
Plant smaller plants, trees, and shrubs around pavement, patios, and walkways to create even more of a cooling effect. Shading your AC unit directly can increase its efficiency, but don’t plant anything within a 2 foot radius, otherwise you have the potential to disturb the airflow and make it run less smoothly.
If you need additional help feel free to give us a call, or contact us through our website! Our designers are available to create the perfect landscape for you that is energy/water efficient and beautiful at the same time.