Roughly two-third of all Americans call themselves environmentally conscious, have made commitments to reduce their personal carbon footprint, and consider sustainability when purchasing products.
For the vacation rental business, this piece of data is an important one. It means that making some green changes to your rental may have a significant impact on bookings, attracting those who are trying to put their money into businesses where sustainability is a priority.
In addition to gaining a competitive edge in a tight rental market, the eco-friendly home brings advantages such as a reduced energy bills for you as the property owner as well. Although some of the following ideas require some significant investment, many are small and simple, but offer a goodwill effort at environmentally friendly practices.
1. Replace Inefficient Appliances. If you can't afford to purchase all new appliances at your Airbnb rental right away, keep energy efficiency in the back of your mind when you must replace appliances due to age or wear. Manufacturers are constantly making strides in finding ways to reduce energy usage in new washers, dryers, and dishwashers. Energy Star ratings provide you with an easy comparison of out-of-pocket costs and long-term energy savings.
2. Use Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs. By simply switching to LED or CFL light bulbs, you can reduce your monthly energy consumption and bill. You can save 75 percent of the energy required by incandescent bulbs when you make the switch. Many different varieties are on the market today, and you can choose from different levels of brightness for varying lighting needs at your eco-friendly home.
3. Install a Programmable or Smart Thermostat. Many thermostats can be set to turn on heat before guests arrive or automatically reduce settings when guests are gone or at night. Smart thermostats have the capability to be controlled remotely as well as sense where someone is in the home.
4. Install Insulating Window Coverings. Consider investing in cellular shades, plantation shutters, heavy window draperies, exterior shades or a combination of these window coverings. Many of these new window coverings are designed to do double duty, sealing off windows from leaking heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. They are also attractive and easy to clean.
5. Make Recycling Easy. Most everyone is trained to recycle these days. As a property owner, one simple green offering would be to provide easy-to-use recycling containers for your guests. Make sure they are located in a convenient location, and that you clearly specify which types of recyclable items can be placed in which bins.
6. Offer Compost Bin and Garden. Investing in a yard-sized compost bin can encourage your guests to turn their kitchen scraps into food for a backyard garden. Be sure to leave clear instructions of what can and cannot be composted as well as turning instructions. You probably do not want to offer an open compost pile, however, as they can be messy and unsightly as well as attract unwanted rodents to the property. As an additional touch, you could provide a garden with in-season fruits and vegetables, or at least flowers, for the guests' enjoyment. Be sure to note that these gardens feed off your compost materials to emphasize sustainability.
7. Conserve Water Usage. Adding faucet and shower aerators is an inexpensive, simple addition that will drastically reduce water usage as well as prevent splashing in your bathrooms. You can also set up a rain barrel collection system in the yard, which can be used to water gardens and fill bird baths.
8. Invest in Solar Panels. This may be a long-term investment, but one that will surely provide a return in both energy savings and kudo points with environmentally conscious guests. Many new developments are constantly being introduced in this area of energy production. As more individuals express interest and the technology is refined, the price should slowly come down in the future, making solar panels a more reachable and affordable option.
9. Offer Reusable Grocery Bags. Many fabric totes are available that can be easily used by guest after guest for local errands and shopping trips. If you can't make the investment, at least provide plastic bags that can be reused.
10. Encourage Towel Reuse. Remind guests that reusing towels during their stay is an excellent way to conserve water and reduce detergent usage. Consider posting friendly reminders on rustic-looking, natural signs using non-toxic paints.
11. Install a Low Flow Toilet. Nearly one-third of all water usage comes from flushing the toilet. Low-flow toilets can help reduce water usage significantly.
12. Provide Green Cleaning Supplies. Even if guests are not doing any actual cleaning, the presence of environmentally friendly cleaning supplies in closets can convey the sustainability message as well as using recycled paper towels and toilet paper in your rental.
13. Offer Green Logs. If you have a fire pit, a fire place or a wood-burning stove, you might consider offering logs made from straw, cardboard, soy or other clean-burning alternative materials. Many of these emit less carbon than burning wood.
14. Make Green Transportation Easy. If your Airbnb rental is in an urban area, consider providing bicycles for your guests to use during their stay. In addition, provide information, maps and route information regarding public transportation options nearby, including commonly traveled routes to local sights. If you take as much of the "unknown" factor out of local public transportation options, you will help guests select this green transportation more readily.
15. Add House Plants. In addition to being a homey, welcoming decoration, house plants can help clean indoor air naturally.
By taking a few small steps toward sustainability, you can make your vacation rental more appealing to environmentally conscious guests. When the opportunity presents itself, consider making bigger changes like adding solar panels or energy efficient appliances. Each step you take will help you save money on electricity and water bills and make your Airbnb rental a little greener.
If you have more ideas to transform your property into a eco-friendly home, let us know in the comments below!