USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station

Pacific Southwest
Research Station

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Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
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Publications and Products

Title: Potential of tree shade for reducing residential energy use in California

Authors: Simpson, J.R.; McPherson, E.G.

Date: 1996

Source Journal of Arboriculture. 22(1): 10-18

Abstract: Electric utilities in California currently sponsor planting of approximately 75,000 yard trees annually as an energy conservation measure. In this study we evaluated the potential effects of tree shade on residential air conditioning and heating energy use for a range of tree orientations, building insulation levels and climate zones in California using computer simulation. Trees shading a home's west exposure produced the largest savings, both annual (kWh) and peak (kW), for all climate zones and insulation levels considered. Next largest savings were for southwest (annual and peak) and east (annual only) locations. Three trees (two on the west, one on the east side) reduced annual energy use for cooling 10 to 50 percent (200 to 600 kWh, $30 to $110) and peak electrical use up to 23 percent (0.7 kW). Except in climates with little air-conditioning demand, cooling load reductions were always greater than increased heating loads associated with shade from south side trees in winter. Air-conditioning savings, both peak and annual, were larger in warmer climates and uninsulated buildings; percentage savings were larger in cooler climates and for more energy efficient buildings. Recommendations are made regarding locating yard trees to maximize energy savings


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    Simpson, J.R.; McPherson, E.G. 1996. Potential of tree shade for reducing residential energy use in California. Journal of Arboriculture. 22(1): 10-18.
Last Modified: December 16, 2020