Trees help save on energy bills

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Photo from arborday.org.

Planting trees around your home has a multitude of benefits such as saving energy, filtering stormwater, and absorbing air pollutants.

Betty Huang, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Trees provide much more than the oxygen. When people think of saving energy, they likely think of keeping lights on for shorter periods of time, or not running the their heat/air conditioner constantly.

If planted in the right areas, trees can help homeowners save on heating and cooling costs.

According to Energy-Saving Trees Program Development Director Kristen Bousquet, “The right tree planted in the right place can shade a home in the summer or block winter winds, saving the homeowner up to 20% on their energy bills.”

Highland participated in the  Energy-Saving Trees program for the first time this year, providing up to two trees per residence at no cost. Although Highland has not participated in the past, the program is not new.

“Energy-Saving Trees was started in 2011 with a grant from the U.S. Forest Service,” said Bousquet. “The program focuses on private property tree planting, with an emphasis on locating the best planting location around your home that will maximize the energy savings benefit through shade or winter windbreak.”

The Energy-Saving Trees program is so much more than just providing trees.

“Our program assists our partners with homeowner education, customer connection, community engagement, and energy efficiency,” she said.

The Highland Community Foundation decided it was time that Highland participated in Energy-Saving Trees, and they will determine if it will continue participating in the future. They, along with NIPSCO, paid for all of the trees, which were provided by The Arbor Day Foundation.

Many high school students are unaware of the program.

“Nope, (I’ve) never heard of (Energy-Saving Trees),” said junior Brianna Dewey.

Senior Ethan Churilla was also not aware of the program.

Although some believe that these trees are a great idea and contribute positively to the Highland community, others said they would not request trees.

“It would definitely be a consideration, but I’d obviously have to talk to my parents about it first,” said Dewey. “Reasons for ‘no’ are that we already have trees in our front yard that have caused issues with branches falling on our house and neighbors’ yards, along with the roots ruining our sidewalk and driveway.”

Senior William Ross agreed. He said, he would not participate, mainly because he is not the homeowner.

He would also refuse a tree because “if there were a windy thunderstorm and a branch fell on the house, I think the repair costs would cost more than the energy that has been saved.”

Other students support the idea of the program, saying that it benefits both nature and man.

Senior Karli Byrd said, “I think it is a great program that can make our community better.”

“I think it’s a great idea that communities are being offered free trees to help the community become more green. It helps the Earth and saves residents money, Churilla said.

Highland residents received a total of 100 trees comprised of five different species.

One-gallon potted trees were delivered to participants to plant in their yards. They will grow to be large shade trees.

Of the five species offered, only Swamp White Oak trees are still available.

Interested residents may visit http://energysavingtrees.arborday.org/?partnerCode=07731#Start to claim the remaining trees.