When thinking about energy efficiency you may have overlooked an area not mentioned often. Mother nature can help you save significantly on your summer cooling and heating costs in winter. How can you achieve this?
Plant deciduous trees — the kind that lose their leaves in the fall. Be sure to place them on the eastern and western sides of your home (following the suns path). These leafy shade trees will naturally cool your home during the hot summer months by reducing the amount of direct sunlight that hits your house. In the winter, when they lose their leaves, they allow that same sunlight to stream through your windows and heat up your home a bit more. You can also reduce energy loss by planting evergreens on the north and northwest sides of your home, they won’t affect the sunlight, but will shield your home from cold winter winds.
As an added benefit, mature trees can increase your property value. They add beauty and when placed correctly can also give you privacy. Just make sure to plant them a safe distance from power lines and your home.