Eversource is distributing free trees in Framingham through an energy savings pilot program

FRAMINGHAM – It was warm and pleasant in Cushing Memorial Park last Thursday, and Framingham resident Ellen Kanner received a free tree.

Eversource distributed more than 1,000 free trees and shrubs to eligible customers across the state in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation through the nonprofit’s Energy-Saving Trees initiative. The pilot program allowed Framingham customers who had reserved a plant to view their property through an online portal and determine the best location for their tree or shrub to save energy, and calculate estimated environmental benefits and annual cost savings.

Framingham residents collected 161 trees Thursday afternoon.

Denise Roditi, of Framingham, left, assisted by Framingham Parks and Recreation employee Joseph Garcia picks up her free Eversource Energy tree in Cushing Park, May 9, 2024. Eversource partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to provide more than 1,000 free energy-saving distribute trees Program trees and shrubs for customers across the state, including 161 trees in Framingham.Denise Roditi, of Framingham, left, assisted by Framingham Parks and Recreation employee Joseph Garcia picks up her free Eversource Energy tree in Cushing Park, May 9, 2024. Eversource partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to provide more than 1,000 free energy-saving distribute trees Program trees and shrubs for customers across the state, including 161 trees in Framingham.

Why urban ‘heat islands’ matter: Research shows that some neighborhoods in Natick are hotter than others

Kanner hopes to reap the benefits of planting a tree on her property.

“I hope it will help with the shade and greenhouse gas emissions,” she said. “It’s possible it could save my bill, but I’m more interested in the shade.”

Arborist says trees help consumers save on energy costs all year round

Russell Holman, Eversource’s supervisor of vegetation management and a registered arborist, said trees can help consumers save on energy costs year-round. They prevent the sun from heating up a house, which means less energy is used to cool the house. And during the winter, strategically placed trees can block the bitterly cold wind, preventing it from taking the heat out of a home.

“With rising temperatures due to global warming, shade from trees can help reduce the energy of people in communities heating and cooling their homes,” Holman said. “Planting a tree in the right place can reduce energy costs, allowing the sun to heat a home in winter.”

Russell Holman, Eversource vegetation management supervisor, carries a dogwood tree during Thursday's pick-up for Framingham customers at Cushing Memorial Park, May 9, 2024. Eversource partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to distribute more than 1,000 free trees and shrubs to customers around the world.  state, as part of a pilot program to promote tree planting to save on energy costs.Russell Holman, Eversource vegetation management supervisor, carries a dogwood tree during Thursday's pick-up for Framingham customers at Cushing Memorial Park, May 9, 2024. Eversource partnered with the Arbor Day Foundation to distribute more than 1,000 free trees and shrubs to customers around the world.  state, as part of a pilot program to promote tree planting to save on energy costs.

Shawn Luz, Framingham’s sustainability coordinator, said tree planting is part of the city’s sustainability strategy because it can help alleviate problems caused by the so-called heat island effect: urbanized areas experiencing higher temperatures than remote areas. This was investigated last summer by Framingham State University’s Christa McAuliffe Center, led by Irene Porro.

“They have identified certain risks,” Luz said. “These types of programs are really helpful.”

The McAuliffe Center project included 50,000 temperature measurements

The McAuliffe Center team recruited about 40 volunteers last July to collect 50,000 temperature readings along seven routes in MetroWest communities.

Porro and the volunteers found that densely populated residential areas, such as downtown Ashland, Framingham, Holliston and Natick, experienced temperatures up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than those in more suburban and greener areas on the day of their study.

John and Jenn McCarthy of Framingham will pick up a free tree at Cushing Park on May 9, 2024.  The couple reserved the tree through Eversource's pilot program with the Arbor Day Foundation.John and Jenn McCarthy of Framingham will pick up a free tree at Cushing Park on May 9, 2024.  The couple reserved the tree through Eversource's pilot program with the Arbor Day Foundation.

John and Jenn McCarthy of Framingham will pick up a free tree at Cushing Park on May 9, 2024. The couple reserved the tree through Eversource’s pilot program with the Arbor Day Foundation.

‘This is important’: MetroWest climate study shows link between higher temperatures and urban areas

Luz echoed Holman’s point, noting that trees can protect homes from the heat in the summer, lowering energy costs and emissions. He said increasing tree cover is important for the city as part of its climate action plan.

What is the best place in your garden to plant a new tree?

Along with the saplings and shrubs, Eversource representatives handed out instructions on how to properly plant and care for trees, along with instructions on the best places to place them on a property.

Eversource recommends planting deciduous trees on the west and southwest sides of a home so that the leaves shade the house in the summer, which can reduce air conditioning costs. When leaves fall in the winter months, the sun can warm a home, reducing heating costs.

The utility also recommends planting evergreen trees on the north side of a property to prevent cold winds from taking heat out of a home.

According to an Eversource handout, properly placed trees can reduce consumer energy consumption by 20% and an urban tree canopy can reduce city temperatures by 10 degrees.

This article originally appeared on MetroWest Daily News: Eversource’s free tree program promotes lower energy costs for consumers