Trees can lower your energy bill

Grace Smith | October 7, 2022

Planting specific types of trees can reduce utility bills, per the “Iowa Climate Statement 2022: The Many Benefits of Our Trees.” The statement said a Midwest electric utility explains that the proper placement of just three trees can save an average household between $100 and $250 in energy costs annually. 

“Attention to the species of trees we plant and their care will be crucial for their survival. Strategies are needed both to sustain the many benefits of existing large mature trees and to increase planting of appropriate new trees for mitigating and adapting to climate change,” said Jan Thompson, Morrill Professor, Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Iowa State University. 

Trees can provide shade, block the sun, and keep the interior of homes cool. In addition, through a process called transpiration, trees lose water vapor to cool the environment. These processes combined create a lower energy bill for homes. 

In the summer months, plant deciduous trees where direct light enters a home. Deciduous trees have leaves in the summer, but lose them in the fall, allowing sunlight to naturally warm a house in the colder months. During the winter, planting evergreen trees on the sides of houses can stop the wind from entering through a house’s gaps and cracks.

Drought and extreme heat’s impact on trees

Grace Smith | October 6, 2022

Long dry periods while waiting for water are impacting trees everywhere, per the “Iowa Climate Statement 2022: The Many Benefits of Our Trees.” Drought-associated tree disturbances have been amplified by climate change. 

Trees survive by transporting water from their roots to their leaves, and drought disrupts this vascular water transport process. When moisture in the air and soil fall, air bubbles can form in the tree’s vascular system, blocking water flow to the leaves – which a tree needs to do to survive. 

In California, over 129 million trees died as a consequence of a severe drought. And, drought-induced stress on larger trees is happening nationwide. In a 2015 journal, researchers examined 40 droughts and found that tree mortality increased with tree size in 65 percent of the 40 droughts. The 2022 Iowa Climate Statement says that extreme heat stresses urban trees and rural woodlands, even if they are well-watered. 

To save trees for future generations, the climate statement suggests planting diverse tree species that can block unwanted pests and pathogens and effectively store carbon.“With their wealth of ecological and social benefits, the trees we have are valuable. We need to plant diverse species of trees to promote resilience and support and strengthen Iowa’s ongoing tree planting programs,” Heather Sander, Associate Professor in Geographical and Sustainability Sciences at the University of Iowa said. “In the face of climate change, we should both plant more trees and provide essential care for the precious trees we already have.”

Iowa Climate Statement 2022 press conference

Floods, droughts, and strong Derechos have become more common and intense weather phenomena in Iowa because of climate change. Our trees are in danger because of these occurrences. The Iowa Climate Statement 2022: The Many Benefits of Our Trees, which was published Wednesday, focuses on ways to increase, and protect rural woods and urban trees in response to climate challenges.