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Tired of high energy bills? Well-placed trees may help
News Release
Major Media Distribution
February 14, 2011
Contact: Paul Ries, 503-945-7391 or Cynthia Orlando, 503-945-7421
As energy costs rise and budgets tighten, homeowners - and business owners - might like to consider the energy savings provided by trees.
Research has shown trees can help reduce both heating and cooling costs. Trees save energy by keeping structures cooler during the hot months of summer, and can provide a windbreak for your home during the winter. Deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in the winter) are especially helpful, because they not only provide cooling shade during the summer, they let in much-desired sunlight during Oregon's cooler winter months.
Trees block out winter’s frosty winds
Cold winter winds enter our homes through small openings and carry heat away from the building's outer surfaces. Strategically placed trees can be as effective as other energy saving home improvements like insulation, or the installation of new windows and doors.
Trees help lower energy consumption in the wintertime by blocking out wind. When planted on the north side of a home, evergreen trees with crowns extending to the ground and branches that keep their foliage during the winter make the most effective windbreaks. Douglas-fir, spruce, cedar and firs are some examples. Using trees and landscaping to reduce utility costs becomes even more critical in Eastern and Southern Oregon, since summers tend to be hotter, and winters, colder, in those areas than in the Willamette Valley or the Oregon coast.
In western Oregon, trees in general and conifers in particular are more effective for reducing stormwater runoff and associated taxpayer costs.
Trees help us stay cool during hot summer months
Trees evaporate water in their leaves, which lowers air temperatures and helps keep us cool during the hotter days of summer. In fact, shade trees can make buildings up to 20 degrees cooler during the summer. Shade from trees reduces air conditioning needs; three large trees around a house can reduce air conditioning costs up to 30 percent. Trees also make non-air conditioned homes much more comfortable.
According to a US Forest Service website, the maximum annual effect of trees on energy use in conventional homes is about 20-25 percent compared to the same house in the open.
Deciduous trees, which shed their leaves during winter, work well all year long by admitting sunlight in the colder months, and providing shade and blocking heat from the sun during the hotter months of summer.
Other tips
* Place your trees on the south and west sides of buildings
* Allow room for the mature size of the tree; a tree that will reach a medium to large size should be located 15 to 20 feet from the side of a house
* Whenever possible, think about shading hard surfaces around your home like driveways, patios and sidewalks.
In addition to energy savings, trees and vegetation also improve our air quality, reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, decrease storm water runoff, improve community livability and increase property values. 
Winter pruning
Did you know that while winter is a good time to prune trees, “tree topping” is a detrimental practice that damages both the health and value of trees? Tree topping - the indiscriminate cutting back of tree branches to stubs - weakens trees, leaves them vulnerable to insects and disease and shortens their lifespan.
Many people mistakenly "top" trees because they grow into utility wires, interfere with views or sunlight, or simply grow so large they cause worry for the landowner.
"Proper pruning can remove excessive growth without the problems topping creates," says Oregon Department of Forestry's Urban Forester Paul Ries. "Topping creates hazardous trees, but proper tree pruning enhances the health of the tree."
If the trees on your property are in need of pruning but you’re unsure just how to go about it, contact a certified arborist in your area for assistance. For more information on proper tree care, visit www.treesaregood.com
Also, if in doubt about what type of tree to plant, or how to correctly prune your tree, contact a certified arborist.  A list of certified arborists for hire is available at  www.pnwisa.org/promotional_directory/
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