Your cozy cabin getaway in the woods or mountains feels even more delightful when it aligns with your eco-friendly goals. It’s even better when it makes your wallet happy.
With the right renovations, you can obtain energy and financial savings. Any budget and lifestyle have options and aspirations, so it’s time to explore what you might want to achieve when renovating your eco-conscious cabin.
1. Install a Rain-Capturing System
Water efficiency and conservation will save money and energy by minimizing utility bills and reducing resources required to heat and move water. Looking at the big picture, it also reduces demand on water providers and treatment plants, which use excessive resources to clean and transport water to homes and cabins.
Rain barrels are the most popular method of conservation. They can provide 1,300 gallons of water monthly during peak times, saving cabins around $35 per month. Though it may not seem like a lot in a year, it’s critical to consider how green renovations add up over time to yield thousands in savings.
Rain barrels are an inexpensive renovation as well. Some choose to DIY their barrel by thrifting or asking to purchase excess barrels from a local business. Store-bought barrels also do the job if you have more room in your budget, usually costing less than $150. Avoid wood that can rot and unglazed ceramic that absorbs water — you could lose or negatively impact water in these cases. They come in plenty of other high-quality materials, including metal and resin.
2. Get Smart Technology
Luckily, smart tech — also known as Internet of Things devices — has versatility in price and application. An initial investment could be $20 to thousands, depending on the scale of your renovation and lifestyle choices. The beauty of these devices is owners control them through apps. If you’re not at the cabin for some months of the year, you can stay connected to ensure energy and financial savings anywhere.
It’s essential to acknowledge these devices use energy themselves and pair best with clean energy generation like solar. On average, a solar array may cost around $20,000, but most experience a complete return on investment in approximately eight years. More off-the-grid cabin styles may not want tech, which saves even more energy and money.
A smart thermostat could save cabins money with user-assigned, automated programming. Cabin dwellers can adjust settings, so the temperature automatically adjusts to the outside weather. No more wasted energy and money because you forgot to turn off the air conditioning when you left to get groceries — it can turn off when you leave the house. Energy Star-approved smart thermostats could reduce energy use by over 8% and save a minimum of $50 a year.
While smart thermostats are a mid-range upgrade when thinking about price, there are other options you can add to the home’s smart portfolio to receive compound financial and energy savings, such as:
- Light bulbs
- Outlet plugs
- Air-quality monitors
- Appliances like refrigerators and coffee makers
- Water valves
- Power strips
3. Optimize for Passive Solar
Passive solar is another malleable option for cabins in price and design. At its core, passive solar optimizes a structure’s orientation, windows and other fixtures to keep homes comfortable at all times of the year. Depending on the size of your cabin, it may be challenging to reorient it entirely, but there are plenty of other ways to utilize the sun. The cabin’s materials are equally essential and will capture, store and release energy throughout the space.
Studies explain how much savings there are with new builds versus retrofitting cabins. If you’re constructing a new cabin, you might see an increase in price versus if you weren’t considering passive solar design. However, it has the potential to save between $6,000 and $67,000 over 30 years — a satisfactory return on investment despite a high upfront cost.
For example, a south-facing floor-to-ceiling window is optimal for letting sun rays in during winter. The right floor can absorb and release that heat as radiant energy throughout the day instead of racking up heating bills with fossil fuels. Alternatively, that same window can have an awning to help with temperature control in the summer. When days are long and the sun beats down, the awning keeps most of the hottest rays from getting inside, keeping it cooler for longer.
Outside elements like small water bodies and dark-colored stones can work from the cabin's exterior by redirecting heat and energy wherever you want. Yet, this method only works with insulation and airtightness. These also vary in cost, as caulking and weatherstripping are cheaper than replacing the spray foam insulation in the walls.
4. Start Composting or Repurposing Organic Matter
Taking food scraps and other organic matter to your cabin’s composting situation saves energy and money. Composting contributes to the big-picture energy conversation, as eight cabins that repurpose food scraps like this could offset an entire home’s electricity usage. Food waste contributes to carbon emissions not only in landfills but through transportation, as it requires fuel and energy to move food to landfills in the first place. Depending on where your cabin is, you may have land that’s suitable for investing in landscaping to suit a compost pile.
Another way to repurpose food scraps and organic matter is by using biomass heating. For example, wood chips are a greener alternative to gas heaters or oil generators, and they work perfectly to heat a cabin in the winter. You save on energy and bills again by finding ways to reuse what’s already in and around the cabin.
The price of fossil fuel power is rising yearly, especially as governments push renewable energy incentives and private companies challenge the fossil fuel industry. Households might experience a $239 yearly increase in oil-based power compared to the $86 from electrical alternatives. Investing in a pellet stove or otherwise now may be in your best interest to save money. Therefore, cabin owners can invest in a renovation to suit a compost pile of their choice and consider biomass heating fixtures to replace fossil fuel versions.
Being Eco-Conscious Has Its Benefits
Worldwide, people are looking to improve their cabins for sustainability. It helps that going green has financial benefits, too, making it even more enticing.
Each renovation option has scalability and cost savings over time, meaning anyone can start this journey for almost any budget. Over time, the savings are noticeable as your dream cabin becomes even more idealistic for you and your loved ones.