Buildings are responsible for a huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada – especially those that were built over 30 years ago. If you’re looking to reduce the environmental footprint of your Muskoka cottage, you don’t have to rebuild it from the ground up. There are many ways to make your cottage more sustainable, and to save yourself a few dollars in utility fees at the same time.
Go solar or change your lightbulbs
One of the most popular ways to go green is to convert to solar energy or use it to augment your current system. Installing solar panels on the roof of your cottage is an essential step can drastically reduce emissions, and will allow you to generate clean electricity to power all or some of the essentials in your cottage.
While solar panels are a long-term investment, the eventual payoff is usually enormous both in energy savings and resale value. Additionally, installing solar powered outdoor lights, or a solar water heating system is an effective way of making your cottage more sustainable, and can also make a significant impact on your electricity bill. Switching to energy efficient light bulbs is another great way to save on electricity, as they tend to use far less of it and last longer than traditional bulbs.
Reduce your water consumption
Cutting the amount of water that you use everyday is a great way to reduce the environmental footprint of your cottage, and it’s easy to do. This can mean investing in energy efficient home appliances that use less water, reducing the amount of time you spend in the shower, or finally fixing the minor leaks and drips that you’ve been putting off. Even if you are getting your water from the lake, your pump and hot water heater are still using electricity to power the process, so it’s worth taking some extra steps to save water.
Installing high efficiency shower heads and low-flush toilets are great ways to conserve water and reduce your cottage’s footprint. Minor lifestyle changes can also be made to use less water, such as not running the tap while you’re doing dishes or brushing your teeth are easy changes to make, but go a long way when it comes to reducing water usage.
Reinsulate your home
If your home isn’t properly insulated, there’s a good chance that it’s losing a huge amount of heat, wreaking havoc on your heating bills. Good insulation goes a long way in conserving heat, holding it inside your cottage and lessening the amount of heat you’ll need to generate throughout the colder months.
Ensuring that your walls, roof, and floor are properly insulated will greatly reduce the amount of heat escaping from your home, saving you on heating costs and going a long way in improving your environmental footprint. Making the switch to cotton insulation is a more environmentally friendly option than fibreglass insulation, which typically has a much higher production cost as it isn’t being sourced from a renewable resource.
Replace or repair your windows and doors
One of the leading causes of heat gain and loss in your cottage is having old windows and doors – they can be responsible for up to 30% of residential heating and cooling. Often they have developed drafts, have lost much of their structural integrity, or weren’t designed with energy efficiency in mind.
Replacing your old windows and doors with products that have been Energy Star or NFRC certified and feature lower U-factor ratings is a surefire way to greatly reduce the amount of heat that is lost in your cottage. New windows and doors go a long way in keeping your warmer in the winter months, and cooler in the hot summer months, and even have a major effect on dampening the amount of outside noise that makes its way inside your cottage.
If you’ve recently had new windows or doors installed in your Muskoka cottage, it may be a good idea to ensure that there are no air leaks. If you find that the weatherstripping and caulking around your windows has been damaged since its installation, re-installing it can be a quick and easy DIY project that will help to reduce your cottage’s footprint. During the summer months, window treatments and coverings can be an effective way to keep your home cool, and to minimize your use of air conditioning or electric fans.