As you can see from browsing our website, Exuma is a paradise that we are fortunate enough to have a slice of. With owning a slice comes great responsibility - to the environment, to the local people, and to our guests. This responsibility is taken seriously and passionately.
We love the Sun and enjoy Exuma's sunny days year round. Taking advantage of what the Sun provides is fundamental to our responsibility to Exuma. From feeling the warm rays on your skin to the green hills and landscaping and the way the ocean lights up in those incredible hues of blue, we knew early on in the design process that we had to incorporate solar energy into our house. Crazy as it may seem, the government wasn't keen on solar and the laws seemed to discourage its use, so we skipped pursuing solar during the construction. Within the first year of opening The Salt House, we were back to having solar on our minds and installed a first phase of solar panels and all of the equipment and batteries needed to get a system going in December 2017. The goal was to produce 40% of the energy the house needed through solar energy (including the solar pool heating system). We learned a lot during the first year of operating the house and then again in the first year that we had the solar system and we didn't quite hit that goal. We expanded the system with phase 2 adding 50% more solar panels in December 2018 and are now hover around that 40% goal with some fluctuations throughout the year. We had a phase 3 in the planning stages when Covid-19 happened and we have unfortunately pushed pause on this project.
As we have been told many times by our solar electricity installer, it is much easier to use less electricity than it is to make more. This doesn't just apply to us, but to all of Exuma where the island suffers from power outages from its aging generators. Electricity reduction is quite the challenge when the summer months temps (April-October) are in the mid to upper 80's and even night time lows rarely dip to the mid 70's along while the winter months experience highs around 80 degrees. So from the design phase, we worked with our architect and builder to incorporate a few traditional Caribbean building techniques - position the house to take advantage of the ocean breeze to cool the house, and most windows and doors covered by overhangs for shade. We also incorporated LED and efficient lighting throughout, which use 1/6th to 1/10th of the electricity and have added additional insulation to the house over the years. We are constantly thinking about how we can reduce the electricity used and how we can get better.
Caring for the Environment
One thing is for sure, it's a sad but true reality that when living on an island, there's no where for trash to go. Sadder yet, a portion of it ends up tossed out car windows into the roadside bush. So each trip our family takes to The Salt House, we spend time picking up litter along the side of the road near the house.
Exuma's beaches have mostly been spared from the trash that you see or hear about in other tropical locations. Yet, we still have our share of plastic and foam bits that wash ashore, so we also do a beach cleanup on each trip. I recommend this to all of Exuma's homeowners as the pristine beach is our main selling point.
Beyond the litter, Exuma doesn't have a recycling program, which means that garbage piles up fast. The island's disposal process is burning it at the dump. One way we have come up with to reduce trash waste is to encourage our renters to enjoy the purified tap water we have from our well and the reverse-osmosis filtering system. We have glass bottles for storing and cooling it in the refrigerator...and did we mention it tastes incredible? Our hope is that by drinking the tap water, we are able to significantly reduce the single-use plastic bottles used by our guests and the trash that the it makes. Now if only we could figure that out for the beer and rum.