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Branch out with trees to cool down

TAMPA, November 1, 2003

Planting the right trees can truly make a difference when it comes to reducing cooling bills that, like the temperature, can skyrocket in the heat. And even if you’re moving into a new home with existing trees, it helps to know how to make them work best for you.

When trees are properly selected, they can provide many benefits, ranging from moderating climate, cooling temperatures, and improving air quality (by filtering the air, absorbing carbon dioxide and other air pollutants like ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide, in turn giving off oxygen). In addition, trees facilitate water conservation by intercepting rainwater and reducing storm runoff.

But it’s the shade they can provide that offers the best benefits for many Floridians. This is especially useful when it comes to deciduous trees, or trees that shed their leaves in winter. During the summer, deciduous trees planted to the south and west of windows in your home can help shield out the sun’s strong rays at the angles that they’re strongest.

What’s more, in the winter, these trees lose their leaves, now letting sunlight in to help warm your home through the glass in your windows. Oaks are ideal examples of deciduous trees. Smaller plants can also help reduce the amount of cool air a home loses in the summer. Evergreens on the other hand, can help block wind in the winter, especially if planted on the northwest side of your home.

One of the reasons urban areas get so hot in the summer is because asphalt has replaced greenery. But with a little work and planning on your part, you can have it made in the shade.

This is the first in a series of conservation tips from Tampa Electric.

Tampa Electric Company is the principal subsidiary of TECO Energy, Inc. (NYSE:TE), a diversified holding company of energy-related businesses that include Peoples Gas System, TECO Power Services, TECO Transport, TECO Coal and TECO Solutions.

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