Guide Sustainability tips for your holiday property

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3. Make your holiday property more environmentally friendly

You can make changes to your property so it is more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Some of these things can save you money too and will help your guests to reduce the environmental impact of their stay.

Insulation and draught-proofing

Installing insulation is a cost-effective way to reduce your energy use and bills. By keeping heat in the property, your heating system doesn’t have to work so hard and your energy use is significantly reduced. There are several places around properties that could benefit from insulation, including lofts, cavity walls and ceilings.

Insulation improvements are one of the cheapest improvements you can make to a property. Loft insulation pays for itself in under two years. The Energy Savings Trust can help explain the cost of installing insulation and the expected time to pay back what you spend.

Draught-proofing is the cheapest and easiest way to keep heat in your property. You could replace seals around windows and doors where needed.

Energy and heating

Gas and oil boilers: heating your holiday home comes at a cost, both financially and environmentally. Gas or oil boilers are very expensive to run and contribute to a huge amount of carbon emissions that damage the environment.

If you have a gas or oil boiler, the first thing you can do is have your boiler serviced regularly. This contributes to the efficiency of its performance and ensures it is safe.

As part of the government’s plan to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, fossil fuel heating systems are likely to be phased out over time. The government is banning the installation of gas boilers in new homes from 2025 and from existing properties from 2035.

You can still install a low carbon gas or oil boiler before 2035, but if it breaks and needs to be replaced you may need to install an eco-friendly heating system to replace it.

Renewables: heat pumps can make a big impact in reducing your carbon footprint so are well worth thinking about. Air source heat pumps extract heat from the air outside, ( even when it’s cold ) and use it to heat the water in radiators, underfloor heating pipes, and hot water tanks. Pumps are installed outside the property and if you have radiators, you might need to install new ones with a larger surface area to provide the heat you need.

Ground source heat pumps are also an option.  These take heat from the soil but you need the space in your land or garden for the pipes. If you have electric storage heaters you could look to power them with solar photovoltaic panels. You could install a solar heating system for your guests to use for bathing, showering or washing up. Find out more about renewables at the energy savings trust.

Double or triple glazing

Properties with old single or double glazing could benefit from new double or triple glazing. Lots of the heat lost from properties is through windows that have poor insulation. New double or triple glazing can make your holiday home more energy efficient and reduce your energy bills. For some properties you may want to consider secondary glazing panels for some windows. They have great thermal and acoustic properties and can be removed in the summer when you may want to easily open the windows.

Choose a green energy supplier

Some energy suppliers provide 100 % green energy from renewable sources which can greatly improve your environmental credentials. Look at consumer champion websites like or one of the many price comparison sites to choose a green energy provider.

Choose energy-efficient appliances

When you buy new appliances for your property, it’s worth investing in appliances that are energy efficient. Not only are they better for the environment because they use less electricity, but they reduce your electricity bills too.

Appliances have an energy label which goes from ‘A’ ( the most efficient ) to ‘G’ ( the least efficient ). Some appliances like washing machines and dishwashers are even more efficient and can be rated as ‘A +++’

When shopping for electrical items, look for products that are longer lasting and harder wearing. You’re likely to save money in the long run as you won’t have to replace them so often.

Energy saving lightbulbs

The sale of inefficient halogen light bulbs was banned in 2021. They’ve been replaced by energy-efficient light bulbs. It’s estimated that by replacing all of the bulbs in your property you could stand to save around £35 a year on your electricity bill. Modern LED light bulbs last up to 25 years, saving even more money. The government estimates that the shift to using LED bulbs will cut 1.26 million tonnes of CO2 – the equivalent of removing over half a million cars from UK roads.

Motion sensors

You can save electricity by installing motion sensing light fittings around your holiday home. These cut down on electricity wasted by lights being left on.

Lights are activated when your guests walk past and they switch off automatically. You can set up the time delay between switching on and off. These fittings are ideally suited to places that your guests frequently pass in and out of, where lighting often gets left on – for example, toilets, kitchens, stairways and hallways.

Soft furnishings

If you own an older property with single glazed windows and original exposed floorboards you can retain heat in the property by buying thick rugs and thick lined curtains to help keep the heat in.

Some properties may also benefit from a thermal door curtain during winter. Draught excluders are especially useful by an outside door and can make a huge difference. In summer, recessed or blackout blinds are good for reducing heat ingress and can help keep the property cool.

Save water

There are several things you can do to reduce the amount of water that your guests use when staying at your property. This is good for the environment and saves money.

Reduced flow shower heads control the amount of water flowing from your shower. Aerated shower heads mix the water with air to give the impression that you are standing in a powerful shower but it uses less water.  A non-aerating shower forces the water through tiny holes which produces a high pressure and also uses less water.

Toilet cistern bags can be placed in the cistern and reduce the volume of water dispensed by the cistern on every flush.

South West Water can provide some of these items free of charge and have lots of information and useful tips.

Fixing leaks

Repairing leaky pipes is a quick way to avoid wasting water. A couple of simple checks can identify if you have a leak in your property.

Leaks from the mains: to check the mains supply into your property for leaks, switch off your water supply stop cock and check your water meter. If it continues to increase, you probably have a leak. Report it to South West Water.

Internal leaks: sometimes leaks occur inside the property. Make sure your stop tap is switched on, then switch off anything that’s connected to the water supply like kitchen and bathroom taps, central heating and showers. Don’t forget garden devices like hosepipes and pond pumps. If the water meter reading is still increasing you may have an internal leak. This needs to be located and repaired by a local plumber.

Eco-friendly and sustainable furniture

Instead of spending thousands of pounds on new furniture, think about furnishing your holiday let with furniture that’s been pre-owned. Buying second-hand or ‘upcycled’ furniture carries a lower carbon footprint compared to buying new. Older items of furniture are often made better and will last longer, which can be cost-effective in the long run.

Check out local Facebook groups and websites like Freegle or Freecycle. You can also list items on these sites when you no longer need them. Check items have valid fire safety labels and don’t remove them. There are community furniture outlets all over Devon that sell previously owned furniture at reasonable prices. Here are some examples:

Prevent junk mail

Stop wasteful junk mail from being delivered to your holiday let:

  • Remove your name from up to 95 % of direct mail lists by registering with the Mailing Preference Service.
  • Say ‘no’ to junk mail without an address by registering with Royal Mail’s ‘door to door opt out service’: email
  • Say ‘no’ to flyers and circulars by getting a free sticker for your letterbox at Recycle Devon.