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Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place to Help Save on Your Energy Bill

A Georgia Power crew plants a tree.

February 9, 2023

Trees enhance the landscape around us, but they offer much more than just beauty. Did you know that trees can also help reduce your home’s energy bill?

While trees support the necessities of life, their leaves can effectively shade the heat-absorbing surfaces of your house, ultimately helping prevent your cooling system from working overtime.

When planted properly, just one tree can save a homeowner up to 20% on energy costs. So, if you’ve been considering improving your home’s landscaping and are looking for additional ways to cut energy costs, planting a few trees may be the perfect solution.

Now is the best time to plant since February is the peak of the state’s planting window and the reason why Georgia Arbor Day is celebrated on the third Friday of February each year. The fact that most trees are dormant, or not flowering, during this time of year optimizes their initial growth once planted and gives them plenty of time to establish their roots before it becomes too warm. 

But when it comes to planting trees with the goal to cut your home’s energy usage, it’s imperative that you plant the right tree in the right location. While there are several factors to consider, Georgia Power Arborists recommend answering these important questions before you plant:

  1. Where does the sun rise and set in respect to your home’s location?
    This is a key first step to help confirm which part of your house receives morning sun and which areas see the strong, afternoon sun. Planting trees around the south and west side of your home typically helps shade the harshest sun rays and can be especially beneficial if your HVAC system or large windows are located on that side of the home. Also, if there is a particular area of your home that receives more sun light than other spots, target that area and plant additional shade trees.  
  1. How much space is available?
    Researching a tree’s mature size is crucial to ensure you have enough room for the tree to properly grow. A good rule of thumb is that larger trees require about 200 square feet of surface area for their root system to fully establish and should be planted at least 15-20 feet away from your home to account for future growth.
  1. Are there power lines near the area where you plan to plant?
    Never plant a tree directly below power lines. Generally speaking, trees that will reach a mature height of 25 feet or less should be planted at least 15 feet away from a utility pole. It’s also important to consider underground powerlines before you plant. For safety purposes, call 811 to have all underground utility lines clearly marked before you dig.
Image of trees close to powerlines

After taking all of that into consideration, there’s still the question of what type of tree to plant. With energy conservation in mind, deciduous trees, such as maples and oaks, are the best type of tree species to help meet your energy saving goals. Deciduous trees provide excellent shade during the summer months, and as these trees lose their leaves in the winter, the sun’s heat is then able reach your home during the colder months providing energy savings year-round.

Take some time to review your area’s planting zone and check out this list of shade trees that typically flourish in Georgia to help get you started. But ultimately, planting trees can be a very complex process and not always black and white, which is why it’s important to consult with a landscape architect or your local county extension agent to help with your landscaping plans.

As you observe Georgia Arbor Day and consider new trees around your home, learn more about Georgia Power’s vegetation management program at