Saving Energy Costs with Operation Cool Shade

Protect and Enhance the Nation’s Natural Resource Base and Environment
Research Year: 

Studies show that proper shading of the home can reduce energy consumption by as much as 20 percent. “Operation Cool Shade” began in 2000 when the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension in Pima County joined with Tri-Co Electric Cooperative to distribute shade trees to residents for energy conservation.

Description of Action: 

Tri-Co Electric Cooperative and Pima County Extension provided trees and training, respectively, to interested residents. A requirement of the program was that trees be planted in locations around the house to ensure maximum shading. Master Gardeners completed “train the trainer” programs and in turn trained residents regarding the correct selection, placement, planting and care of shade trees.

In 2005 eight Master Gardener volunteers conducted four annual programs, two in Green Valley and two in Marana, for 185 participants. An additional four Master Gardeners staffed a tree planting and care answer booth at the tree distribution day conducted by TriCo Electric Cooperative's headquarters in Marana, Arizona. Tri-Co employees conducted follow-up inspections to ensure that trees were planted in the pre-determined locations and that the trees remained in good health. (Follow-up information and assistance with tree care is provided by the Pima County Cooperative Extension).


During 2005 Operation Cool Shade program, 1,314 trees were distributed to 442 electric cooperative customers. Since 2000, a total of 9,258 trees have been distributed to 3,231 customers in Pima County, Arizona.

Given the average peak household consumption (July, August and September) of 7,263 kilowatt hours and the current rate of $0.09602 per KWh, the average projected savings for individual households participating in Operation Cool Shade for the three-month period is 1,453 kWh, with a dollar savings of $139.51 during that time. In terms of all 442 participating households for 2004, the projected savings is 642,226 kWh or $61,663 for the peak three-month summer period.

Funding Agencies: 

TriCo Electric Cooperative

Conact Name: 
John Begeman
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

The University of Arizona

4210 N. Campbell Avenue

Tucson, AZ 85719

Tel: (520) 626-5161, FAX: (520) 626-5849