10 Tips to Living Sustainably in Your Summer or Winter Cottage

10 Tips to Living Sustainably in Your Summer or Winter Cottage

In summer or winter, if you live in a cottage, you can save money on electricity and water while living sustainably. Even if you don't think of yourself as an environmentalist, there are many things you can do to save energy, electricity, and water at your cottage this summer or winter. 

We've rounded up 10 ways to live sustainably in your summer or winter cottage that anyone can do. Read on to find out how.

1) Use solar power

A new development in summer or winter cottage heating is the solar system. This can take many forms, but one of the most common is that an extended glass panel containing dark coloring is placed on the south side of your cottage. This takes advantage of direct sunlight because the sun's rays are most intense then, so the efficiency is maximized. 

Solar panels work by converting light into electricity which powers appliances. Some power companies also offer programs where you can buy back some of your generated electricity at peak hours for a fraction of what it would cost from them at night time. Then you store it for when it's more valuable!

2) Insulate yourself from the cold/heat

One of the first steps you can take towards living more sustainably is appropriately insulating your cottage. By providing a buffer between warm and cold air inside, you can lower your heating bills, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and save money on utility costs. 

The methods for insulating against heat and cold vary according to the construction material used for the cottage's exterior.

3) Use as little water as possible

One of the easiest ways to reduce water consumption is by taking shorter showers. Keeping a shower under five minutes will drastically reduce your energy and water consumption, saving you time and money. In addition, make sure you take advantage of lukewarm water when doing laundry. This saves on your hot water use, too! 

Running a dishwasher only with full loads can save up to 6 gallons of water per load. Lastly, run it through an extra rinse cycle after every load to ensure you get rid of any soap residue left on dishes or glasses that could decrease the effectiveness of dishwasher detergent over time.

4) Create a compost

A compost bin is a great way to reduce waste and turn it into natural fertilizer for your summer cottage garden. Find an appropriate spot for the container where it can drain quickly but is close enough to plants you don't want to fertilize, such as vegetables and fruit trees. 

A sunny spot would be perfect, but one side of the compost should always be shaded by a porch, building tree, or even branches.

5) Reduce plastic usage

Investing in a reusable water bottle and mug will save on buying bottled water. Some places, like Tim Horton's, offer discounts for bringing your coffee cup. Bringing cloth bags instead of plastic ones when shopping can help reduce your use of plastic. 

Before you wash clothes at home, hang them outside and get them back inside before the laundry cycle is finished. And the most obvious way to reduce energy consumption during summer and winter cottages - open windows instead of turning on the AC or heat!

6) Skip the new car

If you do not need a new car, you can save money and keep your engine running well by keeping up with general maintenance such as oil changes, air filter replacement, and tire rotation. 

This includes vehicles parked during the winter months.

7) Drink tap water instead of bottled water

One simple step to living sustainably and helping the environment is to stop buying bottled water. Tap water is just as safe and costs much less per gallon than bottled water. Some filters will clean up the tap water even more if you're concerned about health. 

However, if you want spring water to taste, boil it for an hour, then pour it into an excellent container for 24 hours before drinking.

8) Eat local organic produce instead of mass-produced foods

With a family of five living with you at your summer cottage, saving money and conserving resources can be challenging. However, it doesn't have to be. One way is through organic farming - this system is considered an approach to sustainable agriculture since it relies on ecological processes that can use natural resources sparingly. 

When you eat only food grown organically and locally, you support sustainable agriculture and reduce the carbon footprint of your family's diet by cutting out greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Eating healthier foods grown more efficiently will also help your body maintain a healthy balance, making it less susceptible to catching colds that travel around during this time of year.

9) Limit your meat consumption

Living sustainably only sometimes means a life without luxuries. Start by limiting your meat consumption. Not only will this be healthier for you, but it will have less of an impact on the environment. 

Cooking meat requires more gas than vegetables, so try and make meat the side dish instead of the main course when cooking for dinner. You can also make vegetarian burgers with lentils, tofu, oats, and spices. They are delicious!

10) Recycle & reduce waste production

Planning ahead is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on utility bills. Here are some ideas for saving energy and money when living sustainably at your summer or winter cottage. 

  • Share the fridge - if you have limited refrigerator space, ask family members and friends not staying at the cottage to only buy perishable items like milk, cheese, cold cuts, etc. 
  • Set up a compost pile outside the cabin – either in a designated spot near an outhouse (great for toilets, too!) or closer to home for easy access.
  • Use LED light bulbs to conserve electricity and decrease CO2 emissions from power plants that produce it.
  • Turn off lights when leaving a room, and use candle lamps for ambiance instead of electric lighting during nighttime hours.
  • Install low-flow fixtures in sinks and toilets that can be used with less water than standard models, reducing the need for more frequent filling of cisterns or wells on site.
  • Live close enough to enjoy these great summer activities without needing a car – walk, bike, or take public transit! 
  • Unplug idle electronic devices - e.g., laptops, tablets, cell phones, televisions - because they still consume electricity even when turned off 
  • As mentioned already earlier, go solar! If you're considering installing solar panels to offset your dependence on grid power, remember that Ontario's feed-in tariff (FIT) program pays generous rates for renewable sources of electricity
  • Sign up for a community gardening program to always have fresh organic veggies outside your door this season or next.

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