Trees and Plants Around Your Air Conditioner Could be Costing You Money

What grows around your air condition unit can directly affect your unit’s efficiency and may be making your energy bill higher. Here are some quick tips on how far to put your trees to flowers with the distance explained.



Your condenser unity sits outside and circulates a pressurized fluid through coils and pipes until it absorbs enough heat inside the house to evaporate into a gas. A compressor then re-pressurizes it, releasing absorbed heat and turning it back into a liquid. The aluminum fins and fan visible on the unit maximize the surface and air available to vent the heat that builds up as the gas compresses. As vital as clean, unobscured fins and smoothly functioning fans may be, the space around the unit must be free to allow rapid dissipation of heated air to avoid overworking the circulating pumps and blowers and condenser unit fan. If you have brush and landscaping around the unit, you are essentially making your unit work harder and this can be costing you money each and every day.



Did you know the relative coolness of shade allows faster dissipation of heat from a condenser on a hot day? Well, it does so plant a tree will aid unit efficiency.  A tree planted to the west of the condenser unit provides shade but choose a drought-tolerant species because the overhanging branches will be subject to constant breezes of hot, dry air. Meaning, your air conditioner unit’s hot air can harm the tree if it is not a drought-tolerant species. The National Fire Protection Association says that to be fire-safe, the tree must be planted at least 30 feet from the house and cleared of branches from 6 to 10 feet up from the ground.


Shrubs and Herbaceous Plants

Shrubs planted closer to the condenser than 3 feet will not only act as baffles to air movement, they can also shed leaves, twigs and other plant materials that might end up in the fins around the sides or fan casement of the unit. Grasses and perennials that grow more than 6 inches high should also be planted at least 2 to 3 feet away from the base of the unit because ventilation for the unit is also drawn from that area.


Other Considerations

Avoid placing containerized plants near — or on top of — condenser units. Unit vibration can bounce pots off the top of the unit or, worse, into the fan compartment. Whatever plants are installed around your condenser unit, be sure to keep woody plants pruned neatly, and promptly clean up any deciduous litter. If a unit must be hidden, consider a solid fence or low wall at the same distance as plants — it will require less maintenance, and you won’t have to buy fertilizer.