Your choice of caravan insurance may seem an unusual factor in becoming more green in your caravanning pursuits. But it is one of a number of ways in which you can help reduce your carbon footprint. This article aims to show you a number of ways in which you can improve your relationship with the environment. I hope you are pleasantly surprised about just how easily this can be achieved.
In these days of increasing environmental awareness it is interesting to note that a survey has shown that caravanners have gener credentials than the average motorist. In a poll of 1,000 motorists it was discovered that caravanners are:
- more likely to use energy saving light bulbs
- more likely to use their own shopping bags
- more than twice as likely to offset the carbon footprint of flights they take
- considered by more than 75% of people as more environmentally friendly that people who fly to their holidays
- carrying out basic maintenance on their vehicles far more often than non-caravanning motorists, which helps reduce CO2 emissions
- 7% more likely to think about their environmental impact on a daily basis
Buying Caravan Insurance
So, how does a caravan enthusiast go about helping to save the planet? Firstly, and perhaps a little surprisingly comes your choice of caravan insurance. Online caravan insurance providers Towergate Bakers have developed a policy that promises to deliver the carbon neutral caravan holiday. The policy is provided as a web-only product, and as a result the savings made in postage and processing time are to be used to offset the policy holders caravan related carbon emissions at no extra cost to the customer.
Buying A Caravan
If you are in the market for a caravan, there are a number of things you can think about to try to improve your eco credentials:
- Aerodynamics and Weight: Both the weight and the aerodynamics of a caravan impact the amount of carbon produced when towing. The lighter and more aerodynamic the vehicle the smaller and more eco-friendly car can be used to tow it.
- Make and Model: Caravan manufacturers such as Baileys (who's caravans are 75% recycleable) have become increasingly eco-aware and have made efforts to improve their caravans. Increasingly recycling schemes and green manufacturing techniques are being introduced, so when looking for a new caravan include this in your research.
- Insulation: Ensure the caravan is well insulated, as poor insulation can significantly affect the amount of CO2 produced to regulate the temperature of the caravan. Also bear in mind that the less corrosive the shell of the caravan is the longer it will last which will in turn defer the energy required in manufacture.
- Power: Solar panels are a good option, reducing the reliance on generators and batteries. These also prove to be cheaper over the long term.
There are a number of things you can do regarding towing the caravan to reduce the amount of carbon emissions you create:
- Regular servicing: This will help ensure that your car is using fuel as efficiently as possible
- Turn off your engine: Should you find yourself stuck in a traffic jam and you are obviously not going to be moving for a while, then make sure you turn off your engine. This is a good idea to cut your emissions even when you are not towing a caravan
- Roof box: Choose a profiled roofbox for your car as this can help the overall dynamics of your rig. And be sure to remove any roofbars when not in use
- The right tow car: It is important that your caravan and car are correctly matched to ensure the efficiency of your towing. You should check with the car and caravan manufacturers for recommendations and guidance
- Carry less water: Some people carry gallons of the stuff many, many miles, which is unnecessary. Reducing the amount lowers the weight you are towing and will result in using less fuel. The best idea is to fill your tanks when you get to your destination
- Drive sensibly: Avoid trying to pull off like Louis Hamilton from the lights, and be sure to increase your speed gradually as this is more fuel efficient
- Avoid the rush hour: Try to plan your trips so you are not traveling during the rush hour if at all possible. Also try to plan your route to avoid stop / start traffic to enable you to travel at a steady speed
- Check your tire pressure: Having the wrong pressure in your tires causes your car to use more fuel, and can result in creating an unnecessary extra 10 kilos of Carbon Dioxide for each 500 miles you travel
- Slow down: Reducing your speed by 10mph will result in a substantial reduction in the amount of CO2 you produce per mile
- Switch to LPG: This costs approximately £ 1700, but the fuel costs half the price of regular petrol. It is increasingly available at the pumps, and after conversion the vehicle will still be able to use standard fuel if necessary
- Use BioDiesel: If you have a diesel car then fill it with BioDiesel instead of standard diesel. It is made from sustainable vegetable material, which is normally mixed in with ordinary diesel. Your car does not need converting to be able to use it
Choice Of Site
The green bug has even bitten Caravan sites themselves, backed by the both Caravan Club and the Camping And Caravanning Club. The later have increased energy efficiency and recycling, introduced eco-friendly materials, and included more honeycomb grid hardstanding which enable the grass to grow. Indeed its Windermere site has been hailed by The Guardian newspaper as Britain's "most environmentally friendly site".
There is even an award scheme for environmentally friendly sites. The scheme, set up in 1996 in a joint venture between conservationist David Bellamy and the British Holiday and Home Parks Association saw 620 sites receiving an award this year. There are three levels of the award that a site can earn, these being Bronze, Silver, or Gold. You can hunt for one of these sites at bellamyparks.co.uk.
Finally there are a number of general things you can do to become more environmentally aware, that are not necessarily caravan related, but which are relevant to caravan holidays:
- The newer the caravan the better as caravans have become increasingly better insulated over the years
- Save fuel on heating by wearing an extra layer rather than notching the heating up
- Recycle your plastic bags, by using for multiple shopping trips, or as waste sacks
- Increase the insulation in the caravan by using polystyrene wall linings in wardrobes and cupboards, and under seating
- Make sure you use charcoal from sustainable sources when barbecuing. These will have the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) recommendation on them
- Only boil as much water as you are going to use
- If your site does not have recycling facilities, make the effort to take your waste to municipal recycling points while on your way home. These can often be found in supermarket car parks.
- Use low energy bulbs and turn off lights and electrical equipment when not in use
- Do the washing up with the hot water you used to boil an egg
- Ideally buy a compost toilet, but failing that buy toilet fluid products – such as Thetford's Aqua Kem Green – which are formaldehyde free
- On-site sinks are deeper and need more water to wash the dishes than doing them in the caravan
- Buy yourself a solar powered or a wind up radio
- For less than £ 10 you can buy a wind up mobile phone charger
- Try to walk, cycle or use public transport more when on holiday. Leave the car behind at the site
- You can become self sufficient in terms of 12 volt electricity it you install portable solar panels (this can cost over £ 400)
- Use biodegradable cleaning products
- Hold onto things that are compostable for the heap at home. Things like card food containers and Egg cartons
- Separate you metal, glass and paper waste. Recycling all the aluminum cans in the UK would result in 12,000,000 fewer dustbins full of waste a year, and 17 trees can be saved for each ton of recycled paper
- Buy locally produced food from local bakers, farm shops, and farmers' markets. This reduces the number of lorries on our roads
So there you have it, a brief but I hope useful list of ways you can reduce your carbon footprint while making the most of your caravan holiday. Admittedly some of these require investment up-front, but even putting those besides, there are many cheap and even free ways of improving your green credentials.
I hope you are able to put at least some of these into action, as you will feel good about making an effort to protect the planet for future generations (of caravanners hopefully).