The Unfiltered Blog

May 4, 2015

How to Landscape Around Your AC Unit

By Chuck Gassmann, CEO

Use landscaping to keep your home coolDid you know the proper landscaping around your AC unit can help keep your home cool in the summer? You may also be surprised to learn it doesn’t take much work or investment to see a noticeable difference in your energy bills. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates well-planned landscaping can reduce the need for air conditioning by 15 to 50%.

Here are a few tips on how to landscape around your AC unit this summer.

  1. Shade the outdoor air conditioning unit.
    The outdoor unit for the central air conditioning system or a window unit is just like a car in the summer. Left in the sun, it will heat up. That means the system has to work harder. You can provide shade for the unit by planting a tree several feet away. Make sure you know which direction the tree’s shadow will fall and ensure the branches will not hang closer than five feet above the unit.
     
  2. Don’t fence in the outdoor air conditioning unit.
    Air conditioning units aren’t known for their beauty, and this may cause some homeowners to put a fence around the outdoor unit. Unfortunately, this negatively affects the unit’s performance because it needs airflow to work properly. A standard rule is providing three feet around the unit and five feet above the unit for necessary airflow.
     
  3. Keep debris away.
    Plants too close to the outdoor unit can allow debris and leaves to easily blow into the unit, which can clog up the coil causing performance issues. By selecting plants that won’t shed leaves, small branches or seeds — like cottonwood — the air conditioning unit will stay cleaner.
     
  4. Shade your house.
    Planting trees on the south and west sides of your home will provide shade for your roof. Keeping your roof cooler means keeping your home cooler, which reduces your air conditioning needs. Plant a 6- to 8-foot deciduous tree near your house, but make sure the branches will not hang over the roof. The tree will start shading your windows in the first year.
     
  5. Grass is better than hardscapes.
    Many homes boast impressive hardscapes — outdoor living areas made of concrete, brick or stone. But those materials heat up the air that then goes into your air conditioning unit — making it work harder to cool the air. On the other hand, grass keeps air temperatures cooler — making it easier for the air conditioner to cool the air even more.

Implementing these tips can help save you 20 to 30% on energy costs in the summer. Find more energy saving tips for your home this summer in our post on 8 tips to save money on home cooling costs.