Is Shading Your AC Unit Worth It?
Shading your air conditioner’s outdoor condenser unit is an accepted way to increase its efficiency and lower your cooling costs. That’s because shading the air conditioner is said to cool down the air around it, so that it doesn’t have to work as hard to cool that air before blowing it into your house. Energy.gov confidently states that “shading the outside unit can increase its efficiency by up to 10%.”
If your air conditioner is on the south side of your house, definitely consider planting trees; they can cool the surrounding air temperatures by as much as 9°F! We recommend using evergreen plant or some oak and beech trees, to keep the unit free of falling leaves, which can impede the fan. The more trees and bushes you can plant near your air conditioner, the cooler the air around it will be and the more efficiently the unit will function.
Be aware that some types of shadings and plantings around condenser units actually restrict airflow, causing heated air from the unit to recirculate and reduce the condenser’s cooling efficiency.