Owning a cottage can be an expensive proposition, buying or building one doesn’t come cheap and using it makes it an ongoing expense. The last thing most people need is two houses to upkeep, and pay mortgages and taxes on. In addition to cottage repairs and maintenance there are the operating costs such as heat and light.
Also, now more than ever, we all need to be more aware of the power we consume, because we are all contributing to global warming and climate change, so doing our part to reduce energy consumption when we can, will help in the long term.
There won’t be much sense leaving your cottage to the kids or grandkids if the place is under three feet of water in the future, or the lake has dried up……
Of course if your cottage is on an island with no power, or hidden deep in the woods with a wood stove and some gas lights etc, your costs will probably be much lower, but many of us have cottages with power, lights, televisions, stoves and refridgerators, in other words, summer homes.
There are several ways to save energy and thereby reduce costs in your home that translate to your cottage summer home.
The first thing to do is look for energy labels on any appliances that you purchase for your camp or cottage. I know that many of us, me included, usually buy used appliances for the cottage to save money. That is fine, as long as you don’t buy anything too old, when it comes to devices needing electricity. Energy Consumption or rating labels have been on home appliances for quite a while, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a newer used model, which will be more efficient.
Another tip is to shut off any power using devices when you go home, or go out for any length of time. Leaving a radio, television or computer on while you aren’t home is just wasting power, contributing to your power bill. Atour place we shut the power off all winter, as soon as we stop using the refridgerator. It only means flipping a switch when we go down to use the cottage during the off season.
It’s not a bad idea to pull the plug on your water pump, or shut it off at the switch if equipped, when you go home Sunday night etc. Then if a water leak develops while you are away, the pump will not keep running continually, possibly burning out the motor before you get back.
Outdoor lighting. It’s dark in the country at night, no question, but do you really need to light it up all the time? Artificial light makes the stars harder to see, and makes the country more like the city, which is what most of us are trying to avoid in the first place.
Instead of outdoor spotlights that are on all the time, or on a timer to come on every night, why not install motion sensor lights that come on when someone or some creature moves within their field of ‘vision’. You’ll still have lights protecting your place, but they won’t be on all the time, burning up energy and money, needlessly. Of course you should purchase energy saving long life bulbs when you are replacing the bulbs.
Woodstoves are a big part of many cottage heating systems, infact, many woodstoves are the cottage heating system. Is yours old? We recently replaced ours, not because it was all that old, or no good, but we were more or less forced to by our insurance company…God Bless them…they were concerned about the clearances that we had around the stove. It was a big stove and we probably didn’t have the required clearance. Never mind that it had been in place for 25 years with no problem, but that is another story…
However, we replaced our old woodstove with a new one, designed more for the size of the cottage and with the newest woodstove design features. I have to admit, it heats the cottage fine, and uses a lot less fuel to do it. Because it is designed to burn hot it also ‘burns up’ a lot of the smoke, reducing the pollution that would be spewing from our chimney. It’s amazing really, it takes a little while to get going, but once it does, one or two sticks of firewood burn for a long time, a lot longer than the old stove which was comparitively an incinerator that had me running for firewood every hour or less. So, it may have cost a bit up front, but in the end we are saving money, and reducing our footprint on the ecology of the area.
Insulate. There isn’t much more I need to say about that….insulation in your cottage just like at home will save you money. It will make it easier to heat in the cool weather, and keep the place cooler on those hot summer days. Adding insulation to a finished cottage can be an expensive deal however, and you need to weigh the benefits against the costs. If you never use your place in the winter, insulation from the cold may not be necessary. However, adding some fibreglass insulation to the attic of your cottage will help keep it cool in summer if nothing else and shouldn’t cost too much.
If your cottage is up on posts, like ours is, you can consider insulating the floor from underneath, and or skirting it, similar to the way they do mobile homes. Skirting makes a place look a little more connected to the land, and of course keeps cold wind from blowing underneath the cottage cooling the floors. On the other hand, it also keeps the same winds from keeping under the cottage damp, which of course can add to rot problems down the road. So if you do decide to insulate and put skirting around your place, keep that in mind, and make sure you maintain adequate vents for air circulation.
Finally, and this is a bit removed from the actual cottage, consider your boating requirements carefully. What’s the point of a speedboat that will go 60 miles per hour if your cottage lake is only a mile wide and 3 miles long? The trip will be over before you start and if you run the boat at a slow speed it will still use more fuel than necessary as well as contribute harmful emmissions to the water.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like a big, fast speedboat as much as the next fellow, and if you need one, or have a place to use it, by all means go for it. I’m just talking about matching your boat purchase to your cottage needs. Who cares if it will tow three water skiers at once if no one you know water skis…..Also, while I am on the boat thing, consider one of the new four stroke engines, they are efficient, don’t pollute to the extent the old two strokes do, and are usually faster than the same horsepower two stroke.
So there you have a few tips for saving energy, and money at your cottage. If you have any tips you’d like to add, send them in, or post them in the comments, we’ll publish them.
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