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Summer in Wilmington Island, Georgia, gets brutal fast. With the combination of sunlight and humidity, we often find that our home interiors feel uncomfortable and hot, even when the thermostat says it’s 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Part of the problem might be your landscaping, or lack thereof. Keep your home cool with the shade and breezes from trees and shrubs planted in the right spots. Your HVAC system will work better with the extra help, and your energy bills will be lower.

Plant Shade Trees Near South-Facing Windows

The sun that comes through south-facing windows can be extremely hot in the summer. In the middle of the day, the sun seems to heat up certain rooms to unbearable temperatures, no matter how hard your AC works to cool the house. You’ve thought about blackout curtains, but you don’t want to lose all natural light. Plus, in Georgia, our west-facing windows heat up for the few hours before sunset, as the sun beats through them.

Focus your shade-tree planting on the south and west sides of your house. Don’t plant the trees too near your home, or the roots may eventually endanger your foundation. Have the trees trimmed regularly, so the canopy flows outward, rather than up, and provides a nice umbrella of foliage. You will get shade to keep your home cool, but don’t have to sacrifice all natural sunlight during the day.

Trim and Prune Trees Correctly

You can prune your trees to encourage breezes to flow past your house and further cool it. Creating space between the trunk and the lowest branches makes a corridor for air to flow. At night, especially, cooling breezes will float by your house. You can help them along by planting shrubs beneath windows, though always remember not to plant them too close to your house. The shrubs will keep the breezes flowing right past the windows, where the brunt of a home’s heat gain happens.

Help Your Outdoor Unit

The outdoor component of your AC or heat pump needs specific landscaping. If you can, you want to provide it with clearance and shade. With these two landscaping details in place, your unit stays as functional and efficient as possible between maintenance appointment.

Clearance means you want several feet of free-flowing air around all sides of the unit, including the top. Aim for between two and three feet on the sides, and at least five above. Many people put fences or hedges around their units to hide them from sight and keep the noise dampened. Just remember that if you have plants around it, you’ll need to clean the leaves, trim the branches, and ensure no overhanging branches dangle too close to the machine.

Shade keeps the unit cooler during the hot months. Even the few degree difference between shadow and sunlight is helpful to your AC unit. It works hard, and keeping it out of the sun is just one of many small things you can do that adds up to a healthier system.

Grow Vines on a Trellis to Create Porch Shade

Porches can get hot and stuffy, too, and every time you open the door you let that stuffy air inside. Install a trellis around your porch and plant some ivy to grow along it. The trellis and ivy will create wonderful shade that also looks beautiful. Remember to trim the ivy regularly, since you don’t want it to grow on the side of your house and cause possible damage later. If you plant flowering ivy, you get the added bonus of beautiful, nice-smelling flowers every spring.

Have a McDevitt Air technician discuss outdoor AC unit landscaping with you the next time you call us for maintenance. We’ll give you tips on the small things you can do to keep debris away from the unit between our visits, and we’ll let you know if any plants or fences are sitting too close and impeding air flow. If you haven’t had your spring HVAC appointment yet, it’s not too late to keep your AC in top shape before summer hits. Call us at 877-692-9402.

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