Passive cooling techniques can be a great way to reduce the load on your AC unit. Whether you’re looking fora way to lower your electric bills or making moves towards being more self-sufficient, shade can be a great help in your passive cooling efforts.
While shade trees often get all the glory, trellised vines can offer much quicker results when you want to shade walls and windows. While these decorative vines do not shade your roof, they can offer constant shade for the wall, rather than just during a specific time of day like a well-placed tree. And training them up a pergola or arbor around windows can reduce heat gain there too. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing a shade vine for passive cooling.
Check for Invasive Habits
Vines that will escape and take over your yard should be avoided as well as those that will leave the trellis and climb directly up your siding or brickwork (they can damage your house or be very difficult to remove). Some vines in these categories include:
- English Ivy
- Virginia Creeper
- Creeping fig
Twining vines, rather than those that use tendrils or roots for attachment, are your best bet. Clematis, Periwinkle, and California grape are three examples.
Decide Between Evergreen and Deciduous
An evergreen climbing vine can offer unique benefits; it can provide a little insulation in winter as well as shade in summer. However, if your walls are made of brick, you may prefer to use a deciduous vine that will allow light through to warm the bricks in winter.
Consider Annual Versus Perennial
An annual vine has the advantage that you don’t have to stick with it year after year; you could just try it fora year and then see if you like having your walls shaded. But using annuals also means starting over again each year. With a perennial, on the other hand, the infrastructure will already be there even if it’s a deciduous plant, so you’ll get shade quickly in the spring.
Consider Quick-Growing Versus Low-Maintenance
Some types of vines are marketed as being very quick to grow, which typically is seen as a positive(it provides shad fast). However, there area couple of downsides to watch out for.
First of all,a quick-growing vine is likely to need more maintenance. Once it starts growing over your windows or doors, you’ll have to start trimming it back. But since it’s quick-growing, it’ll grow over the windows and doors again soon.
Another factor to consider is that quick-growing vines tend to have invasive habits (non-native wisterias are great examples of this).
A laid-back grower will be more care free and less invasive, but it may not offer the instant results that a more aggressive vine would.
Consider Multi-Use Plants
Did you know that kudzu is edible? True, you should never plant kudzu near anything you care about, much less your house. But many climbing plants and vines can provide plenty of additional benefits, such as a decorative appearance, nectar to feed the bees, and cut flowers for your home.
As you can see, homeowners should consider many factors before heading out to the nursery. But if you choose your vines well, you’ll have a great way to help keep your walls and windows from absorbing so much unwanted heat from the sun.
If your AC unit needs help because it’s struggling to get by, get it checked out before you try alternate solutions such as passive cooling. Our experts at Sunshine Heating Air Conditioning, state license number CAC 1816975, are ready to help with any HVAC services in Central Florida.