One side effect of our growing power demands is the Urban Heat Island Effect, which results in elevated outdoor temperatures and pollution from power-generated heat radiating off of asphalt and concrete.The problem is particularly noticeable in Los Angeles, where air conditioners alone generate enough power to raise the city’s temperatures.

One solution to the problem: plant more trees around your house. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has established the “Trees for a Green LA” program, to teach Angelinos about maintaining trees, and offer free trees to residents. Shade trees not only cool down homes, they also generate oxygen and limit soil erosion.

There is one prerequisite to becoming a recipient of free trees, which is a short workshop (20 minutes online or 1 hour in person) on planting and caring for trees. Once you complete the workshop, and provided that you are an electric customer of the LADWP, the city will deliver shade trees to your home, which you then plant and care for.

The benefits are clear: decreased need for A/C, decreased cost of electricity, decreased air pollution; not to mention increased property value and beautification of the urban landscape. There are thirty species to choose from and each home is entitled to seven trees. This sounds like one of the best deals around: more greenery, fresh air, cool shade, and all for your favorite price: free!