Trees provide shade on hot summer days and block the wind on cold winter nights. That means the air conditioner and heater do not have to be cranked up. And that leads to lower monthly energy bills — seven percent lower than usual, according to the United States Forest Service.

The U.S. Congress is considering creating a new program that would plant 300,000 trees a year, mainly in underserved urban communities. Trees often are spare in those communities. As a result, people who have the hardest time covering the expense of cooling and heating their homes are the same people who have higher energy bills. Trees planted through this program also would help mitigate climate change and absorb pollutants that are harmful to people with respiratory illnesses.

The $50 million annual program, which would be run by the U.S. Department of Energy, would provide funding to nongovernmental organizations; utility companies; and local, state and tribal governments.