18 Easy Ways to Make Your Vacation Rental More Eco-Friendly

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
February 9, 2023

While the vacation rental industry is constantly evolving, one trend continues to gain serious traction from guests: traveling sustainably.

Why? A recent study of over 30,000 travelers revealed 78% of participants intend to stay in a sustainable accommodation at least once in 2023, and 57% are more likely to book a property if it has sustainability practices in place.

Figuring out how to make your house more green not only meets these traveler interests, but it also creates an opportunity to capture extra income by capturing more five-star reviews and setting your home apart from its competition — all while reducing your carbon footprint.

Whether you’re looking for easy ways to be more sustainable or you’re ready to back bigger conservation projects with long-term financial benefits, below are a range of ideas on how to make your rental property more eco-friendly — and the important cost-benefit analysis of tackling each.

Download Our Guide to Making Your Vacation Rental Eco-Friendly

In This Article: 

Conserve Water 

Save Paper (and Trees) 

Buy Energy-Efficient Products

Hire and Source Locally

Make It Easy for Guests

Focus on Water Conservation

Fun fact: according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),  the average American household uses more than 300 gallons of water a day. In your vacation rental, it’s likely that number goes up, as guests may not fully load the dishwasher before running a load. And they might trade a shower for a long soak in the tub because, well, it’s vacation! 

The good news? There are ways to conserve water that won’t break the bank:

1. Invest in Low-Flow Faucets, Showerheads, and Aerators 

Investing in low-flow faucets, showerheads, and aerators can save more than 2,700 gallons of water a year. (That’s the equivalent of doing 88 loads of laundry, per the EPA.) Best part: they go for as little as $10 to $20 each, so you can have a more eco-friendly Airbnb at a wallet-friendly price.

2. Replace Toilets with WaterSense-Labeled Models

If you’re willing to spend a bit more upfront (typically between $150 and $300) these energy-efficient, EPA-backed toilets can save 13,000 gallons of water and $130 annually. Pair them with other bathroom upgrades and you’ll not only conserve a high amount of water, but the expense could pay for itself in a year.

3. Conduct a Water Audit

If you’re not exactly sure where to invest in new products, a water audit can help you zero in on which part of your home could benefit the most from a revamp. Since water usage can change with the seasons (and across the country), conducting one every three months can help point out opportunities for increased efficiency and plan out your timeline for eco-friendly upgrades.

There’s more where these sustainable vacation rental tips came from. Get actionable, room-by-room insights when you download our free guide today.

Pump Up Your Paper Conservation

On average, the U.S. uses more than 65 million metric tons of paper a year. While that figure accounts for business, consumer, and at-home use, the bottom line is there’s a paper problem to solve. Lower the amount of paper your vacation rental uses by making a few simple-yet-effective operational changes.

4. Buy Recycled Paper Products

While slightly more expensive, 100% recycled paper towels and toilet paper are designed to reduce waste. Just be sure not to compromise on the quality of these amenities, as you want to keep the guest experience at a five-star level.

5. Take Business Operations Entirely Online

Leave paper checks and mailed invoices behind and take your booking and guest communications digital. It’s an easy way to make your house more green and a more seamless experience for on-the-go vacationers.

Our team communicates with guests on behalf of Evolve owners to provide all necessary trip details, and each owner’s account provides a digital calendar of bookings, automatic payment processing, and a consolidated view of earnings.

Buy Energy-Efficient Products 

Solar panels on roof of house to help create a more eco-friendly rental property

Switching to energy-efficient options lowers heat and electricity consumption, and can significantly reduce utility costs. Here’s how to make your home more sustainable through smart, energy-saving swaps.

6. Purchase ENERGY STAR-Certified Light Bulbs 

CFL and LED lighting can reduce energy usage by up to 25% and save property owners an average of $225 per year. At just $2 to $5 a bulb, they pay for themselves in a short time span. 

7. Install Motion-Activated Sensors

These lights only turn on when a presence is detected, shutting off in the absence of movement. They’re great for outdoor spaces and bedrooms, saving you a bit on energy bills and lowering the odds that guests will accidentally leave the lights on.

8. Invest in Smart Thermostats

A great way to keep heating and cooling costs low, many models connect to your smartphone so you can regulate remotely. (Some can even sense which rooms are occupied and adjust appropriately.) Smart thermostats also provide a great opportunity to impress guests from the start: in hot summer months, you can make sure your home is cool upon arrival. When the cold weather sets in, you can warm up the home in time for a toasty welcome.

9. Upgrade Appliances

While more costly upfront, using dishwashers, refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, and furnaces with an ENERGY STAR rating can have a big impact on your rental’s sustainability. These EPA-approved appliances use less energy than their traditional counterparts, and can shave over $500 off your annual bills (a number that experts expect to climb above $800 in the next decade.)

10. Purchase Energy-Efficient Windows and Glass Doors

ENERGY STAR-certified options can cost anywhere from $270 to $800 per window, and can set you back about $350 per door on average. But these upgrades keep heat in during winter months and out during summer, cutting your energy bill in the long run. Data even suggests you can save as much as $583 a year by replacing single-pane windows, and up to $197 a year for double-pane. 

When shopping for replacements, the EPA says to consider the U-factor (a window’s ability to insulate) and the solar heat gain coefficient (the fraction of solar heat a glass pane transmits into your home), then adjust for your needs based on climate.

11. Invest in Solar Panels

This is by far the biggest splurge, but it’s one with long-term gains. The average person racks up over $4,000 in annual energy costs, and installing solar panels can significantly lower this cost over the course of their lifetime. Since solar panels last about 25 years, owners using this powerful green technology can expect to generate free electricity for over 20 years, and might even turn a profit by selling electricity back to local power companies.

The great news: for both big kitchen appliance upgrades and solar panel installation, the government offers federal income tax credits to make initial costs more manageable. (Solar panels can cost up to $25,000 before these incentives are applied, but are about $12,000 out of pocket afterward — so you could recoup your investment in as little as four years.)

If a big-ticket investment like going solar makes you feel all warm and sunny, there’s more where that came from in our free Sustainability Guide.

Extend Your Reach Into the Community

Nixing traditional water and energy solutions is only part of how to make your house more green. You can also promote economic sustainability by hiring goods and service providers who share your green goals.

12. Source Decor From Sustainable Merchants

Provide unique touches to your vacation rental by purchasing locally-handmade furniture, decorations, and products to put in your welcome baskets. (You could even shout out sustainable businesses in a welcome book.) Eco-conscious travelers appreciate knowing that the makings of your home were thoughtfully curated, and it’s always fun to provide easy opportunities for them to engage in local sustainability.

13. Hire Local Service Companies

When hiring cleaning and maintenance teams, keep environmentally-friendly practices and geographic distance in mind. Supporting smaller local businesses helps eliminate your contribution to the carbon footprints of larger corporate entities. Choosing local also addresses eco challenges on a more basic scale; the closer your service providers are to your home, the less impact they have on the environment in traveling to the property.

Evolve owners don’t have to find local cleaning and maintenance teams by themselves: we have vetted local service partners to choose from, making it easy to find reliable and trustworthy partners from the jump.

Make It Easy for Guests to Be Environmentally-Friendly

3 different recycling bins for an eco-friendly rental property

Cutting costs and saving money is a major benefit of making your rental property eco-friendly, but you can also pay it forward (and satisfy rising sustainable tourism demands) by giving your guests easy ways to be green during their stays.

14. Put Out Easily-Marked Recycling Bins

Make recycling bins easy to spot and provide clear instructions for what gets recycled and what doesn’t. Give guests info about if and when recycling is picked up locally, so they can participate without any hassle. (This is particularly useful if guests are staying long-term.)

15. Stock Reusable Water Bottles and Bags

For guests on the go, these items are much-appreciated green alternatives to disposable paper and plastic. Stock your kitchen cabinets, and task your cleaning teams with washing reusable water bottles and laundering totes in between guest stays. 

16. Provide Bikes or Scooters 

Whether guests need to make a quick run to the market or want to explore the neighborhood, having a few modes of non-motorized, emissions-free transportation is both environmentally-friendly and fun. They’re convenient for couples, solo travelers, and families with kids alike.

17. Consider a Compost Bin

If you’re interested in reducing food waste at your vacation property, you can set up a compost bin in the backyard and leave clear instructions for what guests can throw inside. There are even countertop options available to make composting an easy thing to do as guests cook or clean up after a meal.

18. Create a Backyard Garden

Gardens require a considerable time investment, but if you live close to your vacation rental and are up for the ongoing upkeep — or you’re willing to make a gardener part of your service team —  you can plant flowers to cut for fresh and fragrant decor. You could also grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs to fill your welcome baskets, or encourage guests to pick from it themselves. This gives them a unique vacation rental experience to help bring in those five-star reviews, not to mention a tasty way of staying green.

The Grass Is Greener with Evolve

Tackling eco-friendly ideas for your home is great for the planet and a major positive for sustainable travelers. But remember: it’s okay to start small. There are easy steps you can take to conserve energy, water, paper, and resources. If you’re feeling inspired to think bigger, upgrade kitchens and bathrooms. Plant a garden. Go solar!   

To help you keep track of how to make your rental property more eco-friendly and easily bring your ideas to life, download our free sustainability guide today. Inside you’ll find:

  • Room-by-room checklists that can transform your home into an eco-friendly oasis
  • Quick and easy low-cost changes you can make now to start saving
  • Big-ticket modifications you can add into your sustainability upgrades plan

And if you’re looking for more ways to set your rental up for success, we’ve got you covered. From interior design hacks and marketing tips to the best markets to buy in, these resources help make vacation rental easy — and sustainable — for everyone.

Get Our Free Sustainability Guide

Consider this your go-to resource for going green. Enter your email to learn how to create a more eco-friendly vacation rental today.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive updates and marketing communications from Evolve. For more information, please read our privacy policy.

Featured Posts

10 Ways to Maximize Your Vacation Rental Income This Year

10 Ways to Maximize Your Vacation Rental Income This Year

Here’s how to make more money on Airbnb, Vrbo, and other top listing sites — and hit your highest earning potential.

The 12 Best Places to Buy a Ski Property Right Now

The 12 Best Places to Buy a Ski Property Right Now

Explore mountain towns across the U.S. with high profit potential, so you can find the perfect ski spot for your next investment.

How to Make a Vacation Rental Welcome Book That Impresses Your Guests

How to Make a Vacation Rental Welcome Book That Impresses Your Guests

Our free guest book template has everything you need to set visitors up for a great stay.