Lower Your Electric Bill by Careful Placement of Plants (Continued from page 10)
Today, most people can't even imagine life without central air conditioning. Steady wind movement around the home during the summer season may actually increase your energy costs by allowing warm humid air into your home. This humid air can enter your home through any structural cracks or gaps. Shrubs and trees should be positioned around the air-conditioned home to steer the summer southern breezes away from the home. This practice is the opposite of what early settlers and pioneers used to do when they didn’t have air conditioning.
Heat rippling off of sunbaked paved surfaces is a familiar site in Florida during the summer. Asphalt and concrete surfaces absorb the sun's heat increasing surface temperature by 15 to 25 degrees and radiate it back into the immediate environment. Groundcover planted around paved surfaces can help reduce these temperatures. Turfgrass is undoubtedly the most commonly used groundcover. No other plant material can withstand as much foot traffic as turfgrass. However, turfgrass doesn't grow well in dense shade and is difficult to establish in wet or dry areas. There are several alternative groundcovers that adapt well to conditions unsuitable for turf. In fact, evidence has shown that taller groundcovers with their
larger leaf surfaces provide more cooling than the shorter mowed turfgreass. The use of groundcovers such as Holly Fern, Blue Daze, Society Garlic, Liriope, Partridgeberry and Junipers can provide a more beautiful profusion of color, texture and contrast than turfgrass and help cool the area.
Shade your air conditioning unit:
You can plant large shrubs or small trees so they cast a shade over the a/c unit from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm which is the hottest part of the day. Be careful to avoid planting too many plants really close to the unit as this doesn’t allow heat exchange from the unit and puts extra stress on your unit. Also, select evergreen plants to avoid large amounts of leaves dropping into your air conditioning unit.
Creative landscape planning with trees, shrubs, vines and groundcover can help alter the climate outside your home and modify the temperatures on the inside. This variety of plant types also provides areas for wildlife, especially birds and butterflies. You may even find yourself enjoying the great outdoors during the summer while sitting under the canopy of your favorite tree and
watching the wildlife work the day away. Resource: Enviroscaping to Conserve Energy-Trees for North Florida- Gary Knox
Love Bug Information
Lovebugs are abundant only for a few weeks each year, usually in May and September. Although lovebugs exist all over the state, they can be abundant in some areas and less common in others. Check out
http://ipm.ifas.ufl.edu/ Pest_ID/biting_and_stinging/ lovebugs.shtml for literally all of the information entomologists know about lovebugs.