Energy-Efficient Windbreaks

January 4, 2011; 12:06 PM ET
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After paying your heating bills this winter, you may want to think about planting windbreaks - for landscaping that saves energy dollars.

Winter winds are strong and cold, so when they blow on people or on buildings they pull the heat right out of them. That's the essence of the wind chill factor we hear about on the weather reports each night.

We all know that sun through the southern windows warms us in winter, but we don't always remember that blocking the wind can save energy

too. The statistics of how much can be saved are noteworthy.

A well placed windbreak can reduce wind velocity by 85%, and reduce winter heating costs by 10% to 25%.

Windbreaks work either by deflecting the wind up and over a building thereby forming a protective wind shadow, or by catching it in the twigs and branches of a double or triple row of trees which breaks up its speed.

Tests done on the western prairies showed that a good windbreak gives best wind shadow protection downwind (where the wind blows to) for a distance 3 to 5 times the height of the trees. It also blocks the wind a short distance upwind (where the wind blows from).

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