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A couple of months ago we published an Owner Q&A discussing amongst other things, how to be more environmentally friendly as a holiday cottage owner. This proved a popular topic, with a number of our owners wanting to know more about the subject.

So here we have created our Ultimate Guide to Eco-Friendly Holiday Letting. This guide touches upon many of the ways you can make your holiday cottage more environmentally friendly; from building materials to saving water.

House in grass field

How to Build an Eco-Friendly Holiday Home

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.

Reclaimed Wood Flooring

Renewable Power Sources for your Holiday Cottage

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.

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 permanent structures, so they can often be relocated or rebuilt without harming the surrounding environment. Equally, shepherd 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 our Complete Guide to Holiday Let Planning Permission, or why not take a look at our guide on how to set up a successful glamping business?

Shepherds hut glamping site

How to Make Your Holiday Home More Energy Efficient

There are a number of changes you can make to your property to make it more energy efficient. Whether you are buying a new cottage or are looking to update your current holiday home.

Long Term Fixes


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 loft, wall, and ceiling.

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.

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 Efficient Appliances

Quick Fixes

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.

Natural 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.

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.

Person holding led light bulb and traditional light bulb

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 two ways to reduce water consumption:

 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).

Find out more information on low flow showerheads.

Fix Leaks

Making regular checks for water leaks can be an easy way to avoid wasting water. 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.

Leaking Pipes


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 houses 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. 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.

Smart Thermostat in home

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Furniture

Furniture is an often overlooked aspect of an eco-friendly house. 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. This kind of furniture, although kind on the pocket, is not always kind to our environment. The initial question is where is the wood coming from and is it a sustainable source? But the toxicity of the glue, the product’s life span and how it can be recycled after use are also issues.

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.

For example, near the Sykes Holiday Cottages office in Chester, a new initiative has been set up by Cheshire Wildlife Trust called Create for Nature. The project is promoting environmental and social engagement through producing furniture from reclaimed wood, that will, in turn, will be sold to fund vital conservation work.

How to Help Your Guests to be More Eco-Friendly

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 tips:

  • Recycling – Make sure to add 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.
  • 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?

Woman recycling food waste

Let your property with Sykes and earn up to £125,000 per year*

  • Join over 15,000 holiday properties already working with Sykes Cottages
  • We welcome over 26 million web visitors a year
  • Many of our owners achieve more than 45 bookings a year
  • We specialise in turning your holiday property into a profitable year-round income for you

*Based on a 7 bedroom property in the Lake District with bookings between October 2017 to September 2018.

holiday let owner pack

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