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7 Tips to Make Your Short-Term Rental Greener

By Nathan Guss|9 min|March 2024



Have you been thinking about ways to make your short-term rental operation mesh with your values? Doing the right thing for the planet is reason enough to make your accommodations greener. If you need extra motivation, there are some business-related advantages to consider. Certain measures, such as those that make your unit more energy efficient, will cut your expenses. Another bonus is that offering an eco-friendly home makes your listing stand out to environmentally conscious vacationers. According to’s survey of 27,000 travelers for their 2024 travel predictions, 53% are looking for accommodations that have sustainable features. There are many actions you can take, depending on your time and budget. Here are our seven top tips to make your short-term rental business eco-friendlier.

1. Make recycling and compost bins available.

If your municipality has recycling and composting programs, setting up bins is low-hanging fruit. Even so, I’ve been surprised in my travels about how often short-term rentals only provide a waste basket. It’s a worthwhile step because (need I say it?) recycling conserves resources, reduces landfill waste, and lowers greenhouse gas emissions by reprocessing materials into new products. Composting turns kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich soil to grow plants and crops without petrol-based synthetic fertilizer, further reducing waste and benefitting the environment.

Set up clearly labeled recycling bins for different materials and a small compost bin for organic waste. Offering a simple guide on what and how to recycle or compost should boost guest participation.

2. Invest in green power or renewable energy certificates.

You can take your rental’s sustainability to the next level by choosing green power. Green power refers to electricity generated from environmentally friendly and renewable sources, such as wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal energy instead of carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels. These sources produce electricity with little to no greenhouse gas emissions, making green power a major component in reducing the environmental impact of energy consumption. While you can’t directly control the exact source of the electricity that flows into your property due to the interconnected nature of the power grid, you can ensure that an amount equivalent to your electricity consumption is generated from renewable sources. There are two ways to do this:

  • Purchasing green power: If you’re in a region with a deregulated energy market, such as certain northeastern states, California, or Texas, you have the option to choose your electricity provider. Opting for a provider that sources electricity from renewable energy ensures that for every unit of electricity you use, an equivalent unit of green power is generated and added to the grid. This supports renewable energy production and reduces your lodging’s carbon footprint.
  • Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs): For those in regulated markets or where green energy providers aren’t an option, purchasing RECs offers a viable alternative. By buying RECs, you offset your electricity use with renewable energy, contributing to the overall demand for and development of green power projects. Green-e has a list of certified providers that allows you to ensure the legitimacy and impact of your REC purchase.

While these options might come with a slight premium, they represent a meaningful step towards reducing the environmental impact of your business and appealing to eco-conscious guests.

3. Make a clothesline or drying rack available.

You can also cut back on fossil fuels use the old-fashioned way. Why not harness the sun’s energy by providing a clothesline or drying rack? Colorado State University’s sustainable laundry practices web page notes that air-drying clothes can reduce the climate impact associated with laundry by 67%. Of course, this eco-friendly option conserves energy by bypassing an electric dryer. It’s also easier on fabrics, which extends the lifespan of clothing and further reduces your guests’ environmental footprint. In the process, you’ll also lower your electricity bill.

4. Provide tote bags for shopping.

Tote bags for shopping are another simple, low-cost amenity for eco-conscious guests. Many people now use these bags, but how many remember to bring them on vacation? Guests will be glad to be able to keep up their green habits during their trip. Whether they’re going to the grocery store or a farmer’s market, it’s an effortless way to reduce plastic waste and its many negative environmental impacts.

The use of a few plastic bags here and there can seem like a small matter. But, as noted on the University of Colorado’s Environmental Center web page, the environmental cost of the 100 billion plastic bags used annually in the U.S. is staggering. Producing that many bags requires 12 million barrels of oil. Moreover, there are many challenges in recycling and disposal. Providing reusable bags reduces this heavy environmental toll.

These bags can either belong to the unit or be a part of your welcome basket. They make a memorable gift. I still use a cloth bag adorned with local fauna and created by a local artist that I received many years ago as a welcome gift.

5. Install programmable thermostats.

Installing programmable thermostats in your rental property is a smart step. These devices offer a straightforward way to manage heating and cooling systems more efficiently, potentially reducing energy consumption and utility bills. By allowing guests to set schedules that automatically adjust the temperature when the property is unoccupied or during the night (or by doing so yourself before they arrive), programmable thermostats ensure that energy isn’t wasted on heating or cooling an unoccupied space.

6. Use green cleaning products.

Using green cleaning products in your unit is safer for your cleaners and guests and better for the environment. Eco-friendly alternatives, such as those recognized under the EPA’s Safer Choice program, are formulated with ingredients that minimize the risk of skin, eye, and respiratory irritations.

Furthermore, household cleaners are now significant contributors to urban air pollution, with their synthetic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) reacting in the atmosphere to produce harmful ozone and fine particulate matter. By choosing eco-friendly cleaning products, you can play a part in reducing this phenomenon.

7. Host disaster victims.

Eco-friendliness isn’t just about directly minimizing environmental impacts. It’s also about creating sustainable cities and towns that can withstand and recover from natural disasters. You can contribute to making your community more resilient by renting your property to people who have lost the use of their homes (for a variety of reasons, including natural disasters) by listing your unit with Sinistar. Our platform helps insurers relocate their customers to comfortable homes in their own communities. It’s a win-win—displaced policyholders find a convenient temporary accommodation, and you gain access to a new clientele and revenue stream.

Whether you choose to take some of these steps or any others, kudos for acting. Just by working to be more environmentally responsible, you are staving off climate doomism, which, as climate scientist Michael Mann points out, is one of the main cultural and political obstacles to combatting climate change, among other environmental problems. You’ll feel empowered, and many of your guests will appreciate and perhaps even be inspired by your efforts.

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