Utility and maintenance expenses can be overwhelming when it owning a home. It can be particularly burdensome with a second home. Second homes or vacation homes often function very differently than full-time residential homes. There are some improvements you can make that will help you save money.
On-Demand Water Heater
Traditional tank storage water heaters use energy to heat a tank of water at all times, regardless of whether or not anyone is using the water. The thermostat can be turned down when there is no occupancy, however this is typically a manual action that cannot be done remotely. The thermostat must be turned up before guests arrive to ensure the immediate availability of hot water. An on-demand water heater only heats water when it is being used. You may have to install multiple heaters to accommodate showers and appliances, however you will save considerably, especially if your vacation home is unoccupied for days at a time. On-demand water heaters are more expensive than tank heaters, but according to Energy.gov they last 5-10 years longer than traditional water heaters and save money on your energy bill as well. They typically make up for their added expense.
It can be hard to program a thermostat for a vacation home because while you want it warm and cozy when you have guests, you do not want excessive heat when it is empty. A smart thermostat is more than just programmable. It can be controlled remotely. With a smart thermostat you can adjust accordingly without having to be physically present, saving you considerably on the off days.
The heater takes up a significant portion of your utility bill, especially in cold mountain climates. According to USNews heating can take “up to half of your energy costs.” Make sure your home isn’t letting the heat out. Have a professional check your insulation and make sure there are no leaks letting warm air out. In addition to running the heater less, you can prevent a host of other expensive problems that poor insulation causes, such as damage from ice dams.
Solar Powered Outdoor Lights
Outdoor lights are a great investment for safety and security purposes. A lit sidewalk is welcoming to guests. Lights can prevent injuries from falls on an unfamiliar walkway or porch. Lighting also signals to unwelcome guests that someone is around. Business Insider suggests solar path lights or security lights. These lights run off of a few hours of sunlight and turn on automatically when the sun goes down. This means you don’t have to be present to switch them on. The solar power feature will save you money on your electric bill.
Indoor lighting can be complicated. Guests may have a tendency to leave lights on. You can combat energy loss by installing low energy bulbs (there are a lot of different options available on the market now). You can also put lights in key areas on motion sensors or timers. Bathroom and hallway lights are great places to use motion sensors. During the night they will provide added safety for guests, but will always turn off when not in use. Entry or foyer lights can also be placed on motion sensors or timers. Guests will have light available the moment they enter the home, but won’t have to leave the light on when they leave.
Try these improvements to reduce your energy bills, while still providing a safe and welcoming home for your guests.