Why is Idaho Power offering free shade trees?
Idaho Power is committed to providing customer programs that promote energy efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, well-placed shade trees can reduce energy used for summer cooling by about 15 percent or more by blocking the sun’s rays. In addition to energy savings, shade trees improve air and water quality and increase property values.
This project is funded in part by the Idaho Department of Lands in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service. This institute is an equal opportunity provider.
Who can participate?
Participants must be an active residential customer of Idaho Power at the property where the tree is to be planted and living in one of the counties listed below. Participant must have the legal right to plant tree(s) on the property. Limit two trees per address for the life of the program.
For fall 2017, this project will be open to residential customers living in Ada, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Payette, Washington and Owyhee counties.
Why is the project limited to certain counties?
This is a demonstration project. Different processes will be tested to determine the most cost-effective method for offering this project and the possibilities for expansion. Each offering has a limited amount of trees, which also limits each offering’s geographic area.
How do I participate?
- Enroll in the project using the online enrollment tool. Energy Saving Trees, developed by the Arbor Day Foundation, is a web-based tool designed to help you to choose a species of tree and evaluate the best location on your property for that tree. The tool will also help you select a preferred pickup date and location. Allow at least 10 minutes to complete the online enrollment.
- Pick up your tree at a tree event. You can talk with an arborist, attend a planting demonstration and learn how to properly plant and care for your new tree.
- Plant the tree. Shade trees work best on the west side of the property.
Why do I have to complete the Energy Saving Trees online enrollment process to obtain my tree?
This online enrollment tool was developed in conjunction with the Arbor Day Foundation to provide you the information needed to select, plant and care for your tree and to gather information we need to administer the project and measure its long-term effectiveness.
How will I know the best places to plant trees for energy savings?
For best energy savings, follow these guidelines:
- Plant on the west side of your home.
- Plant close enough to your home so the mature canopy will provide the shade you need. However, to prevent branches from impacting your home, plant the tree about half the distance of the mature canopy width from your home.
- Ensure trees planted near streets comply with local ordinances, generally about 5 feet from streets and 40 feet from corners.
- Ensure trees will not interfere with overhead or underground utilities. Idaho Power recommends planting shade trees at least 35 feet from any overhead power lines. Learn more about Tree Safety.
- Consider how the tree might affect visibility, shade nearby flower gardens or impact a neighbor’s home.
How much energy will I save?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a well-positioned mature tree can save 15 percent or more on energy used for summer cooling. However, savings depend on a variety of factors, including tree height, canopy width and the density of the canopy. Savings also depend on where the tree is planted, and how much of your home the new tree shades. As soon as the tree starts to shade your home, especially a window, you’ll receive some benefit. Energy savings will increase as the tree grows. The online enrollment tool will help you estimate potential energy savings for your home when the tree is about 20 years old. Remember, for the best summer cooling benefits, plant on the west side of your home.
What happens if I don’t plant it according to the online tool?
The online tool will allow you to evaluate how energy savings change depending on the proximity to the home, the age of the home and what side of the home the tree is planted. Although the tree will provide some benefit, maximum energy savings comes from trees planted on the west side of your home.
Why are only certain tree varieties available?
Tree varieties available for this project are adapted for our climate and approved by local arborists. These tree varieties are also known as good shade trees due to their size and dense canopies.
How many trees will be available?
Approximately 1,000 trees are offered each spring and fall through this demonstration project. Several species will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
How many trees can I receive?
There is a limit of two trees per address for the life of the project. Past participants who only received one tree may apply again for a second tree.
How large will the trees be when I pick them up and how fast do they grow?
Trees will be in 3- to 5-gallon containers and be 4- to 8-feet tall. They should fit in most cars. The tree’s growth rate depends on how it is planted, how it is watered and how much care it receives. The types and size of trees offered through this project vary and at maturity will range in size from 40 to 80+ feet tall with a canopy spread of 25 to 80+ feet.
What if I can’t make my pickup event?
Trees must be picked up at one of four designated events. You will be asked to select the date/location of pickup during the enrollment process. If you cannot attend the pickup event you selected, you may send someone in your place. Please call us to make arrangements. Trees will not be available before or after the events.
Who plants the trees?
You will be responsible for planting the tree or making arrangements for it to be planted. When you pick it up, you’ll receive a tree-planting guide, attend a planting demonstration and be able to talk with an arborist. If you arrange for someone to plant the tree for you, be sure they follow the tree planting guidelines identified for this project.
At least two days before you plan to dig, call Dig Line at 811 or visit digline.com to make sure the selected tree location does not have any underground utility lines.
Shouldn’t shade trees be planted on the south side of a home?
No. Our latitude and long summer days in Idaho cause the hottest part of the day to occur when the sun is in the western part of the sky. Some homes may benefit from a tree planted on the east to block morning sun.
Plus, in the winter, branches from trees planted on the south side of a home can increase winter heating costs by blocking the sun which hovers low and to the south most of the day.
How long do I have before the trees need to be planted?
The trees should be planted as soon as possible. Trees will come containerized. Keep the soil moist until planting.
What if I have trouble planting the tree myself?
Many local nurseries and landscape companies can provide tree-planting services. Also, contact your city forester to see if there are tree volunteers in your community. The Idaho Nursery and Landscape Association has a Locate a Professional feature to help you find a tree-planting professional in your community.
Do you replace dead trees?
No. Idaho Power and project partners are counting on you to care for your tree and help it grow. Idaho Power and its partners do not warrant or assume any responsibility for the tree once it is picked up.
At pick up you will receive planting guides and other information to help you properly plant and care for your tree. Further planting and care are up to you. Some community resources that may be of assistance include the following:
- City urban forestry programs provide classes on tree planting and care.
- The International Society of Arborists and the Arbor Day Foundation have online tree care information.
- Landscaping companies and tree doctors are available for hire to help plant, prune and evaluate tree health. The Idaho Nursery and Landscape Association maintains a list of professionals serving Idaho.
Will there be any follow up?
Because it’s a demonstration project to research the energy savings from shade trees, a subset of customers will be chosen for project evaluations, including follow-up surveys and on-site visits. Customers randomly selected for an onsite project evaluation will be notified in advance.