Does energy efficiency cross your mind on lazy days at your cottage? Not likely. After all, it’s where you go on warm sunny weekends. You barbecue most of your meals, spend days on the deck or beach, and sleep with the windows open. Your power bill is maybe a fraction of the monthly bill for your main residence so energy use is probably not on your radar.

Even though life is simpler at the cottage, there are still many ways to reduce your energy use, and lower your monthly bill.

Tips for Making Your Cottage More Energy Efficient

Install ceiling fans

Ceiling fans are your low-cost air conditioner. Running your ceiling fan counterclockwise in summer creates a cooling downdraft. Although fans don’t cool the room, the movement of air cools the people in the room. Standing fans have the same effect.

ENERGY STAR® certified ceiling fans use up to 60 percent less energy than standard ceiling fans.  They’re an easy, low-cost way to keep your residence cool in the summer months.

Avoid Using an AC Unit or use it sparingly

An air conditioning unit is only as efficient as your cottage. ACs use a lot of energy and that expensive cool air will head into the great outdoors unless your cottage is properly insulated, air sealed and outfitted with efficient windows and doors. If your cottage is snug, consider an air conditioner in conjunction with other tips in this article. If your cottage is drafty, use ceiling and standing fans to stay cool when you’re indoors.

Open windows at night

An evening breeze is old-fashioned air conditioning. Leaving windows open at night will help freshen rooms with cooler evening air.

Strategically use curtains or blinds

On hot summer days the solar heat gain through your windows can make your cottage feel like a sauna. Using curtains and blinds on sunny windows can help block that heat. Awnings and other shading materials will also reduce solar heat gain through windows. 

Replace old appliances

It’s not uncommon for cottages to be the place where old appliances go to die. If your fridge is decades old consider replacing it with an Energy Star certified model. The payback on the newer model could be under five years based on energy savings.

Use the grill or barbecue more often

Cooking outside has double the benefits. It saves energy and it also keeps the oven from warming up your cottage. If you’re not in the mood to grill, a simple no-cook supper is another energy saving option that will help keep your cottage cool.  

Use a Cooler

On hot days, place your stash of cold drinks in a cooler to minimize opening and closing of the fridge all day. Ensuring your fridge and freezer aren’t overfilled will also help them operate more efficiently.

Replace old light bulbs with LEDs

ENERGY STAR® certified LEDs are up to 90% more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and they last at least 15 times longer so will help you save money on your energy bill.

Use Solar and Motion Sensor Lighting

Improve your exterior lighting efficiency by using solar powered lighting where feasible. Motion sensor lighting is another efficient way to provide helpful light without wasting energy.

Use a clothesline

Your dryer gives off heat, warming your cottage while drying clothes. Avoid this by hanging clothes, towels and bedding on the line. Save your dryer for rainy days.

Insulate, air seal and weatherstrip

It’s not uncommon for cottages to have little or no insulation, especially older buildings. Insulation helps to keep the heat out and cooler air inside so if it’s feasible for your cottage, add proper insulation. You’ll appreciate this if you use your cottage in the shoulder seasons too. While you’re at it, seal leaks for added comfort. Proper weatherstripping around doors and windows will also keep cool air in and hot air out during summer.

Run ENERGY STAR® dehumidifiers

If you use a dehumidifier to control dampness in your cottage, invest in an efficient model. An Energy Star certified dehumidifier uses up to 15 percent less energy than other current models. Also, most models are portable and have intelligent humidity controls that switch the unit on and off, which allows you to maintain your desired humidity setting.

Saving energy at the cottage can be easy

Many of these tips are quick and easy to implement, whether you have a rustic cottage or a year-round second home. Putting these tips to use will save you money during the summer months. They’ll also help make your time at the cottage more relaxing and comfortable.


How can I make my summer home more energy efficient?

  • Replace old appliances with Energy Star certified models.
  • Use fans instead of air conditioning
  • Insulate, air seal and weatherstrip
  • Use the grill or barbecue more often, instead of the stove

How can I cool my summer home more efficiently?

  • Run ceiling fans counterclockwise to create a cooling downdraft instead of using AC.
  • Strategically place curtains, awnings and blinds to reduce solar heat gain on sunny days.
  • Open windows at night to allow cooler air in.
  • Use standing fans.

How can I lower my energy bill?

  • Use the cold-water cycle for washing clothing and hang your items to dry.
  • Use ENERGY STAR® certified appliances and upgrade where possible.
  • Barbeque or grill instead of using the oven.
  • Use a cooler instead of the fridge for your stash of cold drinks.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use.

What uses the most electricity in a summer home?

  • If you run an AC at your cottage that likely drives the greatest energy use. Old appliances, especially an old refrigerator, also consume more than their fair share of electricity.

Do ceiling fans help with energy efficiency?

  • Yes! Ceiling fans operating in a counterclockwise direction produce a pleasant and cooling downdraft. When used with strategic temperature adjustments, it can reduce your AC costs by up to 14 percent.