Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Wittman: Trees can also be energy savers

We tried as hard as we could to save it, but we finally had to say goodbye to the beautiful mesquite tree in our front yard.

When we bought our house last summer, we noticed how full and beautiful the tree was – and the fact that it had at some point in its life toppled over on its side and been left that way. The result was a craggy trunk and branches that grew out in all manner of odd angles.

We brought in a tree expert to take a look at it and see if we could right it. The news wasn’t good. Not only had the tree been left in that condition for too long, its roots system was likely posing imminent danger to our plumbing system.

So, in the end, our toilets won out over the pretty, if misshapen tree.

What we didn’t count on was the 10 degree jump in temperature inside our house.

I should have seen it coming. After all, I work for an electric utility and am well-versed on energy efficiency and the simple things you can do around your house to trim you electric bill.

And shading your home on its western side with trees is one of the cheapest – and most attractive – ways you can increase your home’s energy efficiency. The bottom line is, if the sun’s rays are blocked from your home during those hot summer days, your house won’t get as hot – and your air conditioning won’t have to work as hard. And that means a lower electric bill.

According to the Department of Energy (energy.gov), on average, landscaping for energy efficiency provides enough energy savings to return an initial investment in less than eight years.

Two local utilities offer energy efficiency programs involving the use of deciduous trees in landscaping. Tucson Electric Power offers Trees for Tucson for its customers. Learn more under Green Energy at tucsonelectric.com. Trico Electric Cooperative offers Operation Cool Shade for its members. Learn more at trico.coop.

Ultimately, we went to a nursery and bought a pretty tree, one that they tree guy swears won’t have roots that will infiltrate our entire yard. And while the tree is small and probably won’t help us out much this summer, we hope that in a few years it will provide a nice, shady sun block – and a more comfortable house.

Romi Carrell Wittman is a writer and the communication services director for Trico Electric Cooperative. E-mail: romi.wittman@comcast.net.

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