Conserving energy is important not only to the health and welfare of our planet, but to your family’s utility budget as well. And while summertime is many vacation homeowners’ favorite time of year, summer can prove extra challenging in your quest to stay cool without burning through money and fuel.
But no worries – you don’t need to go off grid to do your part! Here are five simple “green” getaway home tips you can start putting to work today.
Install a Passive Solar Water Heater System
According to government statistics, the average homeowner spends 18 percent of their energy budget just heating water. While not quite as efficient as an active solar system, a passive heating system is less expensive, and it may last longer than an active system, making it the ideal choice for your vacation property. The basic system requires a water storage tank, which harnesses the power of the sun, pre-heating the water. It is connected to your conventional system, which can take over if needed. As there is typically no shortage of summer sun, nor need for super-hot showers, your backup may never need to run.
Purchase Renewable Energy Credits
At least 50 percent of customers in the United States have the option to pay a small surcharge for energy from electricity companies that is generated from green, renewable sources such as wind turbines, solar, and biomass. Even if you can’t benefit personally from these green certificates, by paying the extra premium, you are encouraging the energy companies to continue seeking alternative methods while helping to offset their costs. This feature is beneficial to the company, the planet, and allows people a choice that is in alignment with their environmental values.
Choose Eco Friendly Soaps and Cleaning Products
Conventional phosphate-laden soaps contain chemicals that are not good for your skin, and they aren’t good for Mother Earth, either. These phosphates and other toxins enter the aquatic ecosystem once they go down the drain. They contaminate the soil, and eventually run off into streams, rivers, lakes, and seas, causing pollution and phenomena such as algae bloom, which causes fish suffocation and renders recreational areas useless.
Start a Compost Bin
Even if you don’t plan on gardening, a compost bin is good for the environment and can save money. Composting is simply throwing your fruit and vegetables scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, and other organic materials into a container or even just a simple pile. The decaying matter slowly returns nutrients to the soil that likely already suffered some ill effects of pollution. It also reduces landfill waste and the energy required to operate a landfill, and if you reside in a community that charges per bag of garbage, you can dramatically reduce your refuse bill.
Change Your Light Bulbs
Stop using traditional bulbs. While they may be initially inexpensive, incandescent bulbs are costly to operate and waste electricity. Choose energy-efficient lighting, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs). Not only do they last much longer, therefore reducing landfill waste, they are far less expensive to operate. You can also reduce your outdoor lighting by putting it on a timer and motion sensor. Excess artificial lighting can cause light pollution that disrupts the biological processes of local wildlife.
What’s good for the Earth is good for your wallet, too! Solar energy, environmentally friendly soaps, energy credits, composting, and light bulbs are just the start of changes you can make. Consider other options, such as using reusable shopping bags, renting electric cars for your traveling needs, eating and shopping locally, and simply unplugging and/or turning off appliances and electronics when they are not in use. Depending on the changes you implement, you can realistically expect to reduce your annual energy costs by 20-30 percent. You’ll enjoy your vacation that much more knowing you’re doing what’s right without breaking the bank.