Owning a vacation rental home, whether in the mountains or on the beach, is great for many reasons. For starters, vacation homes can be a great net for extra income, helping you build wealth and save for retirement. On top of that, it gives you the opportunity to take affordable family and group vacations when it’s most convenient. However, the extra home maintenance costs that come with owning or managing a vacation rental can often be budget-busters for many people.
Improving the home’s energy efficiency is one of the proven cost-cutting strategies. So, how can you get started with saving energy in your vacation home? Here are seven ways:
Switching off consumer electronics isn’t enough because most of them have a feature known as “Instant On”. This feature doesn’t stop consuming energy when you switch off your surround sound system, phone chargers, DVD players, clocks, or TV. The only way to stop this hidden energy wastage is to unplug all electronics in between stays.
While this may be more difficult during high season, you can take advantage of low seasons and save some energy. Do the same with humidifiers, space heaters and hot tub heaters, and any other electronics that are plugged in. While you’re at it, turn off the water heater at the electric panel as well!
2. Turn down the thermostat and go “smart”
Your thermostat does not go off like other electronics, but you should set it at 50-55°F when there are no guests in the property to prevent pipes from freezing. A web-enabled smart thermostat is a great energy-saving investment, allowing you to control the indoor temperature of your vacation rental from a remote location. You can turn the temperature up or down to prevent unfavorable weather from freezing or bursting your pipes, all from your smartphone.
You can also increase the temperature remotely before receiving your guests to make sure your property is warm and cozy (or cool, depending on the season) upon their arrival. They will appreciate the gesture and most likely leave a positive review mentioning it.
3. Repair holes, gaps, and other potential leaks
Ensure that your vacation rental home is sealed tight to prevent heat loss, especially during winter. Check that:
All doors leading to the outside are sealed and that there are no spaces under them through which air can squeeze in and out. Remember to fix the garage door as well because, although it indirectly leads to the interiors, it is often forgotten when other doors are repaired.
The outer walls, windows, and ceiling are well-sealed and insulated. Hire a professional to help you find and seal the hidden air leaks in the attic.
Attic soffit vents and gable vents are cleaned to ensure free-flow of air through the attic to keep the roof deck cool and dry. A dry deck means no ice dams and no energy wasted trying to get rid of the dam.
The vents and ducts have no visible holes or tears through which warm air can escape. Electrical wires can also have small gaps that need to be sealed with caulk or spray foam. Mastic or metal (foil) tape is also good at sealing unwanted duct holes. You can use duct tape if you are tight on budget but be warned that it isn’t a permanent solution.
There are no holes in the chimney or furnace flues. You can seal any chimney holes using metal flashing or high-temperature caulk.
4. Change air filters
Clogged or dirty air filters lower the efficiency of your second home’s HVAC system and consequently overwork it. They contaminate indoor air quality too, so the air purifying system does a lot of work with little results; allergens and toxins still linger around. You waste energy and still end up with an uncomfortable environment for your guests.
If your vacation rental allows pets, you’ll have to change your air filters every 60 days. If there’s a no-pet policy, filters should be changed every 90 days.
5. Install solar panels
This has to be the most eco-friendly energy conservation option for vacation rental homes. Solar energy reduces your carbon footprint and significantly lowers your energy bill. What’s more, investing in solar panels increases your home’s resale value.
6. Remodel the bathroom
Bathrooms can be a key culprit in household energy wastage, especially if you offer amenities such as jacuzzis or bathtubs. If you monitor your bathroom energy usage, you will realize that the room uses a ton of energy. Do the following to minimize energy wastage in the bathroom:
Install high-efficiency showerheads and sinks
With the help of general contractors, replace your outdated showerhead and sink faucet with more environmentally-friendly models. While shower replacements are affordable, the new installments will provide a much better feel while using less water and energy.
Install energy-saving light bulbs
If your bathroom has incandescent bulbs, replace them with fluorescent tubes or LEDs. This goes for all other rooms in your vacation rental home as well. LEDs, in particular, are more durable and use 80% less energy compared to incandescent bulbs.
Redo the bathroom windows
If the vacation rental home has no bathroom windows, it is best that you create small windows that provide beautiful views of the outdoors (if possible!). If, on the other hand, the bathroom windows are too big, you need to resize them in order to prevent outdoor air from entering or exiting the bathroom. Heating or cooling air from the outdoors is an unnecessary expense.
You can also invest in Energy Star windows to cut down on energy wastage. These windows are known for their advanced design with elements such as Low-E glass, multiple panes, and high-quality frame materials.
Install low-flow toilets
Most rental homes use traditional toilets that use over a gallon of water per flush. If yours falls in that bracket, consider replacing it with an energy-efficient, low-flow model. Not only will this drastically reduce the amount of water used, but you’ll also save money.
7. Bonus tip!
If you’ve already followed all the previous steps and would like to further reduce your energy wastage, hiring a professional to do an energy audit is the solution. These professionals do a thorough inspection of the property and pinpoint where energy is being wasted. While the cost of this service varies depending on the size of your vacation rental, it’s an extremely effective way of discovering areas that need improvement.
There you have it! Making energy-conscious decisions for your property isn’t too hard but it does take some time and effort at first. Becoming aware of where energy is wasted and how to be more efficient will always be beneficial to you and the environment. Your guests will also appreciate it as their electricity costs will drop.If everyone does their part, we can work towards a more sustainable vacation rental industry that thrives in the long-term.
About the author
Jennifer Monroe is an architect. She is young and ambitious, with a degree in architecture. She has eight-plus years of experience in interior and exterior design. Her mission is to inspire others to live their dreams and create their perfect sweet homes.
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