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25 Jan 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Eco-Friendly Holiday Letting

Sykes Cottages Hall: 2 Stand: 562
The Ultimate Guide to Eco-Friendly Holiday Letting

This guide touches upon many of the eco-friendly holiday home tips to improve your sustainability; from building materials, to saving water.

Sustainable tourism and eco-friendly living has gained momentum in recent years, with more people seeking to reduce their environmental footprint and impact on the planet by becoming conscious of lifestyle changes.

With the rising cost of living, many people are looking to renewable energy sources to keep costs down and help the environment. As a result,eco-holidaysare in-demand for cottage owners. As an accommodationprovider, you can make a difference by adding simple touches to your property to boost its sustainability.

As part of Sykes Holiday Cottages’ Impact Mission, we aim to:

  • Reduce Carbon Emissions by at least 50% by 2030

  • Work with at least 20 biodiversity projects every year

  • Achieve a Plastic Free Business accreditation by the end of 2024

  • Have 100% of our team volunteer every year

  • Enable 100 disadvantaged families to go on holiday annually

  • Positively impact at least 10 community and charity initiatives every year

Making environmentally-conscious choices for your eco-friendly holiday home, such as sourcing local materials and buying fresh, local produce from farmers can not only help protect the planet, but may also boost your holiday let occupancy rates.

It doesn’t necessarily mean huge changes are needed in order to be classed as a sustainable holiday cottage. Find out more about how to make your holiday home eco-friendly with our easy-to-follow guide.

How to Make Your Holiday Home Eco-Friendly

When finding ways to increase your sustainability, there are 8 important areas to consider in terms of making your holiday rental business more environmentally friendly:

  • Renewable power sources for your eco-friendly holiday cottage

  • Lighting and appliances

  • Plastic

  • Water use

  • Technology

  • Product and supplier selection

  • Waste & recycling

  • Green building solutions

Running a sustainable holiday home can be a great way to maximise your rental income and attract more bookings. According to Envirorental, surveyed 33,000 travellers from 35 countries in 2023, and found that:

  • 80% of customers said that travelling more sustainable is important to them

  • 74% want more sustainable travel options

  • 44% don’t know where to find sustainable travel options

  • 43% are willing to pay more for sustainable travel options

  • 65% of customers would feel more comfortable staying in an accommodation which had a sustainable certification

  • 53% said recent climate change news had influenced them to make more sustainable choices

There are a number of changes you can make when looking how to make your holiday home eco-friendly, whether you are buying a holiday cottage or are looking to update your current holiday home.


Investing in insulation is a great way to reduce needless energy expenditure. Good quality insulation can help your property retain heat so that you don’t have to waste energy continuously trying to reheat your holiday home.

There will be a number of places around the house that could benefit from added insulation, the most common being the loft, walls, and ceilings.

Double or Triple Glazing

Windows can be one of the key spots in your home that lose a lot of heat. This is why double or even triple glazing can make a big difference in how energy efficient your holiday home is – as well as your heating bills.

When making your holiday home energy efficient, you may want to consider working with a reliable holiday let maintenance company to cover simple maintenance tasks and help reduce the risk of long-term damage and expensive repair costs to your property.

Rugs and Curtains

Thicker rugs and curtains can help to keep your holiday cottage better insulated. If you have a period property and need to stop drafts coming through original window panes or cracks in hardwood floors, large rugs and thick curtains can help insulate.

Save Water

Reducing the amount of water wastage at your holiday cottage is not only good for the environment, but also could have a positive impact on your water bills. Here are several eco-friendly holiday home tips to reduce water consumption:

  • Install flow-reducers or aerators on taps

  • Choose water-efficient shower heads

  • Install dual-flush toilets when they need replacing

  • Set up rainwater harvesting where feasible

  • Investigate grey water usage (using waste water and collected water for things like flushing toilets and watering plants)

  • Use programmes on washing machines effectively

  • Encourage guests to use laundry facilities more sparingly

  • If feasible, install time-controlled irrigation systems for landscaping using harvested rainwater

  • Plant drought-tolerant and/or native varieties of plants in gardens and outdoor spaces

Low Flow Shower Heads

Replacing an old showerhead with a low-flow alternative can help to make showers much more water-efficient. Although showers are often viewed as better than a bath in terms of water consumption, this is not always the case with some power showers. Many use more than an average bath-load of water in less than 5 minutes.

Low flow showerheads control both the water flow rate and the spray pattern of a shower. There are two common types, these include aerating showerheads (which mix the water with air to give similar levels of pressure but using less water) and non-aerating (which squeezes the water through tiny holes, producing a higher pressure).

Fix Leaks

Making regular checks for water leaks can be an easy way to avoid wasting water in your holiday home. To check your supply pipe for leaks, simply switch off your water supply and check your water meter. If it continues to increase, you have a leak and should contact your water company.

To check your internal plumbing, start by switching your water supply back on. Then switch off anything in your home that is connected to the water supply (central heating, taps, showers, pond pumps/water features, etc.), if again the water meter continues to increase, it indicates that you could have an internal leak.

Water Usage

Here in the UK, there’s an increasing pressure being placed on our water supply, with the average Brit using around 150 litres of water a day. As an individual cottage owner, you may think that there’s not much you can do to lessen the strain on the water supply, but by making just a few minor adjustments, you could really help our environment.

Did you know that you could save 60 litres of water per week by simply fixing a dripping tap? This can be easily done by replacing the washer and takes no more than five minutes of your time; keeping your existing equipment well-maintained is the easiest and probably the cheapest way to save water.

You’ll find that many of our Sykes owners harvest their rainwater. By collecting the fallen rain, they are able to water the plants, wash down the paving and even fill up the bird bath – it’s a simple adjustment which makes a big difference in the long run.

Another simple yet effective method of saving water is to collect all your bedding, towels and blankets to have them all washed together.

Making sure you do all your washing at once rather than in several small loads will help lower your water usage, saving money on both the water and electricity bills.


Renewable Power Sources for your Eco-Friendly Holiday Cottage

The cost of energy is a topic of real importance for every business and individuals looking to save on their energy bills. The easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is to switch to an energy tariff that uses renewable sources to generate electricity. Reducing your consumption alongside this will further decrease your footprint and save you money.

Energy Efficient Appliances

A good way to cut down on your energy expenditure would be to invest in energy-efficient appliances. It is possible to identify which appliances use the least electricity by their EU Energy Label. This label will rate the appliance from ‘A’ to ‘G’ (or for washing machines and dishwashers from ‘A+++’), with A being the most energy efficient and G being the least.

Energy Saving Lightbulbs

Replacing traditional lightbulbs with LED alternatives can be a quick and simple way of reducing energy waste. By swapping one bulb in your holiday home to an energy-efficient equivalent, you could save £2 in a year, by swapping all bulbs you could save on average £35.

  • Switch out your light bulbs to LED bulbs after they stop working

  • Choose energy-efficient appliances when they need replacing

  • Check all your appliances regularly to be sure they are working to optimal efficiency

  • Adjust your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) settings to reduce power consumption

  • Install external solar lights

  • Install motion sensor lighting

  • Install sun shading devices, such as blinds and shutters, on windows

  • Install insulation

  • Reduce laundry temperature settings

  • Check out the tips in Step 5 Technology to monitor and regulate energy use

Energy-saving light bulbs

Making your property moreenergy-efficientis a great place to start.It benefits the environment and can help reduce your bills.Replacing lightbulbs withLEDsis a quick and easy way to reduce energy consumption.Additionally, you could invest insmart bulbsthat give you control over when they are on. This lets you cut down on energy consumption when you know the property is empty.

Replace old appliances

This is a slightly more costly investment, but one that pays for itself in the long run.Switching to more energy-efficient appliances is another way to help reduce energy consumption.

Keep in mind that replacing all your appliances can impact the feel of your property. You may want to keep that historic feel that helps your holiday cottage stand out. However,if you do decide to invest in new appliances, consider getting A++-rated ones, as these will save you the most money in the long term.

Shop around for a green energy tariff

Switching your energy provider can be a great way to go green.Many providers now offer an eco-friendly energy tariff. These source electricity from renewables like wind and solar.

Switching to renewable energy helps reduce the carbon footprint of your property. It also helps grow the renewable energy sector, which means there’ll be more investment for future generations.

Consider the location of your property, and get as much information as possible.There may be local restrictions or access restrictions that you might need to address.

Choosingrenewable energy sources for your holiday homes electricity and heatingis a great way to make your holiday home eco-friendly, potentially lowering energy costs.

There are new and efficient technologies available that can help reduce net emissions, creating a cleaner world. Renewable energy, or ‘green energy’ can be generated bysolar power, solar heating, heat source pumps and wind energy.

Solutions already exist for more than 70% of today’s emissions. In many places, renewable energy is now the cheapest energy source.

Solar Panels

Rooftop solar panels are probably the most common renewable power source, and with enough panels and sun, can provide all the power you will need. The one downside is that solar panels only really function when the sun is shining. On cloudy days, or when the sun is down, you may need to use grid electricity.

Hydro Power

This is not an option for everyone, but if you have a source of flowing water on your property, you may have a stable source of power. It is possible to divert the channel of water through a turbine to power your holiday home.

Wind Turbines

Although slightly less popular, a small wind turbine could be a great source of renewable power. If you live in a rural area and don’t have any zoning or local laws that might prohibit a wind turbine, it could provide enough electricity to fulfill your needs.

Offer Waste and Recycling Facilities in Your Holiday Cottage

With the government introducing an array of colourful bins to cope with every kind of waste, from leftover food to glass and clothing, it has never been easier to recycle. There are many simple changes you can make to your everyday life that will aid you on your quest to greener accommodation. Our top eco-friendly holiday home tips for recycling include:

  • Leaving clear and friendly instructions for when the recycling is collected, where to leave it on collection day and what can go in which bin, in your welcome folder. Make sure that bins are also fairly easy to find

  • Choosing appliances which are higher quality and will last longer – legislation is likely to arrive to encourage you to do this

  • If you offer food in a welcome pack, or offer breakfasts and other meals, start to monitor what you provide and eliminate or change those items which are often wasted

  • For food, avoid single-use items and opt for glass jars and dispensers which can be topped up

  • Make it easy for your guests to follow your local recycling rules by providing visual guides and marking up bins accordingly

  • Find out if there are any donation schemes in your area which will take non-perishable food items left by guests. There are even restaurants in some cities using this type of leftover food for their menus

  • When furniture needs replacing, donate it to second-hand organisations and even consider buying second-hand and upcycling it to create something new

  • When you need a new laptop or phone, check to see first if it can be repaired, or find websites that offer a repair, resale or donation service

  • If you provide coffee makers, find a supplier that provides biodegradable capsules that can be easily recycled

Our holiday home waste managementguide highlights the importance of managing your property's waste collection in more detail.

Provide Electric Vehicle Charging Points at Your Holiday Let

More guests are driving electric vehicles, so providing an EV charger at your eco-friendly holiday home makes a lot of sense. This might be a service you offer for free, or you can employ smart technology to charge guests to use it.

The cost of installing and running an EV charge point is relatively low, and can help make your holiday cottage stand out.

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Furniture

Furniture is an often-overlooked aspect of eco-accommodation. Over recent years, our society has grown incredibly fond of flatpack furniture made from chipboard (woodchips bound together by a form of glue or resin), mainly due to its low price point and relative ease.

While this type of furniture is cheap to buy, it is not necessarily good for the environment as the materials are not usually made from sustainable sources.

As an alternative, why not look at restoring good quality second-hand furniture or sourcing products made from reclaimed materials? Using local craftspeople for sustainable furniture will reduce any environmental impact even further and there are community projects all over the UK producing reclaimed furniture.

Adopting Eco-Tech

Adopting environmentally friendly technology can help you monitor and reduce your energy use.

  • Communicate with guests and advertise your eco credentials

  • Install smart thermostats, motion sensors and energy monitoring systems to make your life easier, save you money and improve the guest experience

  • Use voice assistant devices like Alexa or Google Assistant to control your smart locks, HVAC, camera, appliances, lights etc.

  • Set up a digital guide to share with guests rather than providing printed guest information

  • Highlight your environmentally friendly property using OTAs' eco filters and badging

  • Involve guests by having in-property technology so that they can see what they are consuming and be part of saving energy

In recent years, numerous technological advancements have taken place that can help you to reduce your energy consumption. Here we have listed just a few key examples:

Smart Meters

Smart meters are a fairly common example of eco-tech, with many holiday homes across the UK currently using one. The device comes with an in-home display unit that allows you to see current energy usage, as well as historic usage.

Smart Thermostat

These thermostats are a type of smart heating control that connects to the internet, which means that the heating can be controlled and accessed remotely, using an app. This is ideal for anyone living a distance from their holiday cottage.

In instances when the weather suddenly warms up, or if guests are only using part of a property, cottage owners can lower heating temperature or switch it off completely.

Motion Sensors

Motion-sensing light fixtures can be a great way to cut down on electricity wasted by lights being left on. There are a few different options when it comes to motion sensing lights, but a common choice is to replace standard light switches with a motion detecting one.

This way the lights will come on once you walk past the switch and will switch off after a certain period of inactivity. Often, motion detecting lights work best in rooms that have consistent activity when occupied – like hallways and kitchens.

Starting an Eco-Friendly Glamping Business

In general, glamping sites can be much more environmentally friendly than traditional types of property building. Glamping properties are often made using reclaimed or generally eco-friendly building materials.

Yurts, Bell and Safari tents aren't permanent structures, so they can often be relocated or rebuilt without harming the surrounding environment. Equally, shepherd's huts are usually on wheels and can be moved without much damage caused.

For more information on planning permission for glamping sites, take a look at ourComplete Guide to Holiday Let Planning Permission.


Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

Many cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that can damage the environment. Not only are they bad for wildlife, but they can also mean that contaminated water in the water supply can take much longer to purify until it is useable again.

Replace caustic chemicals with natural cleaning products. Either make your own with white vinegar and baking soda or try a shop-bought version.


Additional Eco-Friendly Holiday Home Tips

Often, it’s easy to be environmentally-friendly in our own homes, but a little difficult when away and out of routine. Make it easier for guests with these simple eco-friendly holiday home tips:

  • Public Transport Information – adding some notes in your welcome folder about bus or train routes can make it a lot simpler for guests to leave their cars behind for the day

  • Reusable Bags – Instead of leaving a few plastic carrier bags for guests to use when doing any shopping, why not try a few canvas or jute bags?

  • Tupperware – To cut down on the amount of foil or cling film that guests have to use, why not leave some Tupperware for them to store leftovers?

Source Local Products and Materials

If you have spare land and are looking to build or convert disused outbuildings into environmentally friendly holiday lets, there are a number of sustainable materials and power options to choose from.

Environmentally Friendly Building Materials

Bamboo has become an incredibly popular building material in recent years. Unlike traditional wooden materials such as pine, bamboo is sustainable due to the speed at which it grows. It can be reforested all over the world and at a much quicker rate than other commonly used woods. It is a strong material that has a higher compressive strength than brick or concrete.

Recycled or Reclaimed Wood

If you would still like to use timber in your property, but are worried about the environmental implications, reclaimed wood may be a worthwhile option. Due to its popularity over the years as a building material, timber is fairly easy to track down second-hand. It also can give a great unique look to a property.

Recycled Steel

Equally, why not use recycled steel for your property’s structure? Steel is fully recyclable and has been recycled for over 150 years. Currently, around 85% of steel is recycled.

Precast Concrete

Raw concrete is a completely natural ingredient. It is only once water is added to it that it can become harmful to the environment, with issues including water pollution and excess waste. Precast concrete, on the other hand, is molded on site in a controlled environment – meaning less waste and spillage.

Rigid Foam (Plant-based Polyurethane)

Rigid foam is made from natural products such as hemp, bamboo, and kelp. It is usually used as insulation due to its rigid state. It also offers sound insulation as well as protection against pests and mold.

Straw Bales

Like rigid foam, straw bales offer fantastic insulating properties. They can help to cool your property in the summer months and keep it warm in the winter months. Straw bales can be used in walls, ceilings, and attics for insulation. It can be re-harvested easily, with the creation of the bales having a low environmental impact.

Support Local Businesses

Purchasing organic products from local suppliers is a simple way to help lower your carbon footprint. Opting for local regional items helps reduce emissions across the supply chain and minimises the transit of goods.

When we purchase a product from a local shop made locally or regionally, we help lower carbon emissions across the supply chain by minimising transit. If that product is made using sustainably sourced material from a nearby area, its environmental footprint will shrink further.

You can support local businesses by buying locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables from farmers, and promoting local events in the area to include in your holiday let welcome pack can help encourage sustainable shopping habits.


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