One way to keep a house cooler in the summer months is to plant trees that provide shade.

One way to keep a house cooler in the summer months is to plant trees that provide shade.

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Choosing energy-efficient options can lead to a cheaper and cooler summer

By: Emily Jones | C&G Newspapers | Published July 17, 2018

 Plant trees far enough away from a home so that they do not cause issues.

Plant trees far enough away from a home so that they do not cause issues.

Shutterstock image

METRO DETROIT — As temperatures began to soar last month, with certain days reaching the upper 90s, some residents might be wondering what they can do to combat rising energy costs and stay cool while doing it.

One thing that may be a good idea is to replace any worn-out, energy-draining air conditioning units. Units labeled with the Energy Star logo will have the amount that you can save per year labeled on the front, so you know exactly how much you’re saving.

Consumers Energy has a program called “Peak Power Savers,” in which the customer can enroll to save money. One of the options in the program is AC Peak Cycling, which involves putting a small device on an enrolled resident’s air conditioning unit. The device makes the unit run for shorter cycles to decrease the collective energy load that the company is exerting during peak usage times. This would happen during select days of the week when temperatures are the highest. By doing this, the customer will receive a bill credit every year from June until September, which could add up in the end. 

DTE has money-saving programs as well, including some geared toward low-income families. Among DTE’s programs for people with limited income is the Energy Efficiency Assistance program, in which families may receive things like free furnace or boiler tuneups, programmable thermostats and even a new efficient refrigerator if they meet certain qualifications. 

If appliances are in good shape, one can further improve their functionality by insulating the home. Roland Russell, manager of the Menards in Warren, suggested draft guards, window coverings and Energy Star products. 

He suggested a two-sided guard that “keeps the air from moving through,” thus keeping in the cool air that your’re paying for. He also suggests dense, light-blocking shades, including cellular shades that trap air and keep it from exiting the home. He also says to “look for the blue Energy Star sticker” for the best energy efficient-appliances.

Lastly, improving your green thumb can also lead to cooler temperatures in your home.

In 2018, Urban Science published a scientific article that suggested that people should plant trees for cooling purposes. The article recommended that people should put trees in the southeastern corner of their yard. This is to provide shade in the morning for the western side of the house in addition to shade in the afternoon for the eastern side of the house. 

“Shade just helps,” said Karl Eckert, of Eckert’s Greenhouse in Sterling Heights. 

He said that at the greenhouse, they use maple trees for their nurseries, but other shade trees, like spruce varieties, work just as well. Eckert cautioned against planting trees too close to a house, as that could cause future issues, like a damaged foundation caused by root growth.