Plant Vines Reduce External Heat Gain, Keeping you Cool


Climbers can dramatically reduce the maximum temperatures of a building by shading walls from the sun, the daily temperature fluctuation being reduced by as much as 50%.Together with the insulation effect, temperature fluctuations at the wall surface can be reduced from between ?10°/14°F to 60°C/140°F to between 5°C/41°F and 30°/86°F.

Vines such as ivy, russian-vine and virgina creeper grow quickly and have an immediate effect; according to

Frank Lloyd Wright once said “a doctor can bury his mistakes, but an architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.” It turns out he could have been a mechanical engineer, for it is surprising how effective vines are at keeping a house cool.

Vines also cool your home through envirotranspiration.

Envirotranspiration is the transport of water into the atmosphere from surfaces, including soil (soil evaporation), and from vegetation (transpiration). The latter two are often the most important contributors to evapotranspiration. Other contributors to evapotranspiration may include evaporation from wet canopy surface (wet-canopy evaporation), and evaporation from vegetation-covered water surface in wetlands.

The process of evapotranspiration is one of the main consumers of solar energy at the Earth’s surface. Energy used for evapotranspiration is generally referred to as latent heat flux; however, the term latent heat flux is broad, and includes other related processes unrelated to transpiration including condensation (e.g., fog, dew), and snow and ice sublimation. Apart from precipitation, evapotranspiration is one of the most significant components of the water cycle.

Surprisingly, they also work in winter to keep you warm, by maintaining a pillow of air and reducing wind chill. Heating demand can be reduced by 25%.

Some say that vines damage a building, but if the masonry or siding is in good shape they should be fine. Others claim that it actually protects the building from very heavy rainfall and hail, and shields the building from the effects of ultraviolet light, which can degrade paints and some sidings.

Top that off with the fact that it absorbs pollutants and offers a habitat for insects, spiders and birds.

So it is another low-tech, energy free way of shading your home and keeping cool, perhaps even eliminating the need for air conditioning in many climates.

By Lloyd Alter

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