Tag: environment

This Is Why Tiny Homes Are Better For The Environment

This Is Why Tiny Homes Are Better For The Environment

tiny-homes-are better-for-the-environment

The room for tiny houses in the market is getting bigger. According to a 2018 survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), more than half of American adults would consider living in houses no more than 600 square feet. This means that a majority of the American population is willing to live in a tiny house. 

Why? Tiny houses have helped solve many of the housing problems. They cost less than a traditional house, don’t necessarily put you to commit to mortgages, and occupy less space. And most importantly, tiny homes are better for the environment. 

If you’re thinking about downsizing and transitioning into a more eco-friendly and conservationist living, then a tiny house is the way to go. In this blog post, we will go through all the details on why tiny homes are better for the environment. 

Tiny Homes Lets You Declutter

Have you ever felt like there’s just too many clutters in your life? Don’t worry, you’re far from alone. Many Americans felt the same way. Their solution? Declutter, sell most of their things, then move into a tiny house. 

Tiny homes are recognized as tiny because they only measure between a hundred to 400 square feet, which isn’t much compared to traditional houses. Others feel that houses that are 400 to 1,000 square feet cannot be considered tiny, but small home. 

The tiny house movement started in the 1980s. It did not bloom as much as it did today. In fact, in 2012, the real estate sales that came from tiny homes were only at 1%. However, in the past several years, there has been a whopping 200% increase in tiny house business, according to Escape Tiny Homes. 

You can give your old clothes to friends or donate them to charities

That said, it’s clear that many people have joined the movement. As more and more families move into tiny houses, the more they are to declutter and stick to Zero Waste management. 

Zero Waste management inspires people to prevent waste and reuse most, if not all, products. 

And this is fundamentally true to tiny houses. Tiny house dwellers have a limited space, which means they are less likely to purchase things they don’t necessarily need. They are also more likely to buy items that are compact and durable for prolonged use. 

What do you do if you have many old clothes? Getting rid of your old clothes is a good way to free up some space in your cabinet. Or, you can give them to your friends or hand them to charities. 

Textiles play a major role in landfill waste, so instead of throwing your old clothes, you can donate or sell them. 

The tiny house movement will encourage you to declutter, recycle, and reuse household items. And this is just one of the many reasons why tiny homes are better for the environment. 

Smaller Carbon Footprint

First, what does carbon footprint really mean?

When we talk about climate change, footprint is used as a metaphor to symbolize the impact of something has. Carbon, on the other hand, is the shortened term for all the different greenhouse gases that play a part in global warming. 

Hence, the term carbon footprint is a shorthand to describe the climate change impact of something. By something, it could be an item, an activity, a company, a lifestyle, or even the entire globe. 

Compared to small and residential homes, a tiny house uses less electricity and natural gas. Most off-grid tiny houses use a solar panel system as the main power source. 

Tiny homes let encourages smaller carbon footprint

To save power, many tiny house owners use energy-saving household appliances like washer/dry combos, eco-friendly air conditioner system, and more. 

The tinier the place, the less it costs to heat or cool it. Tiny house owners also tend to use more fresh foods than frozen or pre-packaged foods because they have a smaller fridge. 

How do you calculate the carbon footprint in appliances?
Be warned: calculating the carbon footprint may sound technical, but it’s actually easy. In appliances, electrical power consumption is measured in watts (W). Add the amount of time the item was used, you’ll get watt-hours (Wh). 

So, if you turn on a 20 W bulb for three hours, you’ll consume 60 Wh. If, for example, you live in Arizona which electricity costs around $12.8 per kilowatt-hour (kWh; 1 kWh = 1,000 Wh), and you have five 20W bulbs turned on for six hours a day for 365 days a year, the calculation goes like this:

(number of bulbs)  x (bulb electricity consumption in watts) x (hours used) x 365 days


5 x 20W x 6 hours x 365 days = 219,000 Wh or 219 kWh. 

Because you live in Arizona, at $12.8 per kWh, the lightbulb alone will cost you $2,803.20.Now you know how much energy you use. Now let’s calculate the carbon footprint from the kWh. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the carbon cost in the US, on average, is 0.7 kg of CO2 per kWh. So, that’s 219 kWh x 0.7 = 153.3 kg CO2

The fewer appliances you have, the less carbon footprint you create. And technically, there’s really not enough space for big, bulky appliances in a tiny house. So, with this in mind, we can say once again that tiny homes are better for the environment. 

You might be interested to learn how much electricity does a tiny home need. Click here to read

Tiny Houses Are Easier to Build

The way we build things actually matters, and you may not know this yet, but it can also have a long-term effect. Tiny houses are more environmentally-friendly to build for many reasons:

  1. They require fewer materials

The principle of tiny house movement is to promote sustainable living. It also emphasizes that there are a lot of benefits to living in micro homes, including the freedom to travel and affordability.

And what’s another interesting thing about tiny houses is that they are more environmentally-friendly to build. Obviously, they require fewer materials. You will be building a tiny house, which means you don’t need as many materials as you would with small, traditional houses. 

A tiny house basically has one small bathroom, which means there will be fewer fixtures to repair, maintain, and replace compared to a traditional home. You are also less likely to use as much wood as residential homes do. 

An ordinary home requires approximately seven truckloads of lumber. Meanwhile, a tiny house only requires half of one truckload. This implies that with tiny houses, there are fewer trees cut down for lumber and less fuel used in transporting building materials. 

Tiny houses are easier to build and require fewer materials than residential homes

Most trailer houses are made from abandoned container vans, too. If this is not eco-friendly enough for you, we don’t know what is. 

We’ve provided a list below to help you keep your tiny house building cost low. 

  1. You can use environmentally-friendly supplies

Because there are fewer materials needed in tiny houses, it is easier to build them using recycled materials.

Using green building supplies has a lot of benefits, aside from the obvious environmental impact. They can be beneficial for productivity and health. They are, most of the time, much more affordable, too. 

You may use grown and renewable materials. These kinds of building materials can be recycled after use. Some examples of such materials include wood, bamboo, and cork. 

Wood can be used for structural components of your tiny houses like the wall trusses, beams for roofs, and panels. You may also use wood for non-structural elements, including wall facades, flooring, cabinetry, doors, window trim, and furniture. 

Bamboo, on the other hand, can be used for hardwood flooring. It can withstand wet elements. You can easily refurbish bamboo flooring if they have scratches and other damages. 

Cork is naturally anti-microbial and hypoallergenic. So if you want a building material that’s eco-friendly, safe, and just as durable as wood and bamboo, then cork is the way to go. 

And instead of using paint, you can use wallpapers instead. Purchase wallpapers that don’t emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are extremely hazardous. They pose a lot of health problems, like irritation in the eyes, nose, and throat. They can also cause nausea, headaches, and worse, can destroy the kidney, liver, and central nervous system. 

If you need to use pain, use natural paints instead. 

If you’re thinking about adding carpet to your tiny house, use carpets that are made from natural materials like cotton or sisal. Carpets of this kind do not have chemicals and do not emit any harmful toxins. And at the end of their life-cycle, you can easily recycle these carpets as organic material. 

  1. Tiny houses have lower life cycle cost

Committing to a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle is not only about living in a tiny house. You could be living in a micro-home, but your household items may not be as green as you think. 

It’s empirical that you consider the lifespan and replacement costs of your household items. For example, a tiny house may only have one bathroom instead of five, which means there will be fewer fixtures to repair and replace. 

According to a 2014-study of College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, “reducing home size by 50% results in a 36% decrease in lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from materials on the house and the emissions produced by actions of the inhabitants.”

Lower Your Tiny House Building Cost By Following These 10 Tips
1. Go smaller. Consider a small floor plan. Reducing the floor plan size will lower the overall costs of the build as there will be fewer materials needed.

2. Buy a tiny house building kit instead. Sourcing your materials yourself can be costly, so buy a building kit instead. You’ll also get good deals and savings. 

3. Buy building materials on your local ads. Check Craigslist or your local newspaper if there is someone in your area selling items or building materials from home demolitions or renovations. You can use second-hand household items, too. 

4. Go to construction sites. Many materials from construction sites are just thrown into the dumpster when they are not used in the project. Talk to a site foreman and ask if you could take anything. 

5. Go to lumber auctions. You can buy usable building materials in a lumber auction for less. 

6. Use pallets and wooden crates. Take them apart properly, and you’ll get free wood. Pallets and wooden crates can be found everywhere. With them, you can create stunning floors, decks, and garden items. 

7. Build your tiny house yourself. Hiring experts can cost so much. Building a tiny house is technically a small project, which you can attempt to work on yourself. Of course, if this is beyond your skills, getting professional labor is not bad. 

8. Get free plans. You can hire a professional to design your tiny house, but if you want to lower your building cost, you can find free designs and plans online. 

9. Take your time. Find the best deals on materials online. Read reviews. 

10. Ask for help. Never be too shy to ask your family and friends to help. If asking your friends to help you build your tiny house can help lower your building cost, then do so. 

You Get More Connected with the Environment

Another reason why tiny homes are better for the environment is that the lifestyle lets you get closer to nature instead of the internet of things devices. 

As the advancement of technology continues, more and more people connect to the internet. This means a majority of the population likes being on their devices instead of going outdoors and connecting with the environment. 

According to the latest research by Monsenso, more than 160 million Americans are regular internet users. In a Stanford study, researchers surveyed 2,513 adults. 68.9 percent of which were regular internet users, 13.7 percent said they found it hard to stay away from the internet for several days at a time, and 12.4 percent stayed online longer than they intend to. 

Clearly, the poll is evidence that many people prefer connecting to the internet instead of nature. 

Remember when we talk about carbon footprint? Using internet devices can increase the carbon footprint of a home, which means, the more you are in using your smartphone and other smart devices, the more carbon footprint you create. 

One of the many great things about tiny houses is that they give the notion that you need to spend more time outdoors and indoors. That’s technically why tiny houses are intended to be built on a trailer, so you can travel and explore new places. 

Carleton College published a study (Undergraduate Journal of Humanistic Studies, Winter 2016, vol. 2) said:

The space of a tiny house reverses the home theater syndrome to some extent by limiting indoor leisure and restricting technology that tempts people to stay inside. In The Big Tiny, Dee Williams writes about this intimacy with nature found in her everyday interaction with her skylight: ‘The fact is, even after all these years of sleeping with my bed inches from the roof… nature still surprises me. And then I’m surprised by my surprise, thinking that, at this stage in the game, I should be a bit bored by things like frost.” 

The study tells us that those who live in tiny houses interact more with the environment and have more awareness of their independence with nature. Those who live in cities and suburbs, however, spend more time indoors. 

Tiny house dwellers depend on nature directly for things that those who live in the urban area get in other ways. For example, tiny housers use wood (bonfire) to get heat, use the sun to get electricity (solar panels), and sometimes water from a nearby spring or river. 


Is Living in a Tiny House Right for You?

We’ve presented reasons (backed by science) how tiny home are better for the environment. And maybe you’re someone who wants to make an impact on nature. Perhaps it has crossed your mind that this may be the right time to downsize and join the tiny house movement. 

What you have in mind is commendable. But hold up. Living in a tiny house is a big step, especially if you’re accustomed to living in a traditional house. So before you take a leap, think about this: is living in a tiny house right for you?

True, you’ll be making positive environmental impacts when you downsize, but there are also hardships that you need to face.

Little Room for Clutters

With little room, little closet, little drawers, there’s not much space for your clutter in a tiny house. So if you’re a hoarder, perhaps a person who gets too attached with your things, be warned. 

There’s little room for clutter in micro homes. This means you’ll only get to keep things that you really need. Sometimes you have to say no to things that can eat so much space in your tiny home. 

That 50% sale on the couch? That velvet, bulky closet? You have to turn them down, especially if you have very little livable space in your tiny home. 

If you have old clothes, it’s best to hand them to others who might actually need them instead of storing them in your closet, wishing one day you’ll still be able to wear them. 

Depreciates in Market Value

Tiny houses depreciate just as fast as vehicles do. That’s because they are frequently being transported, which means they are prone to wear and tear. A tiny house may appreciate in market value only if it is so unique, which is rare. 

To get more in-depth information about the value of tiny homes, read Do Tiny Homes Hold or Lose Value? What You Must Know

Hard Getting Financed

Another deal-breaker for tiny house aspirants is that it’s usually difficult to get financing when it comes to a tiny house. This is mostly true for those who do not have a large amount of savings. 

If that’s your case, then you may find it hard to settle in a tiny home. Banks see tiny houses as high risk, not as investments, especially if you plan to build your tiny house yourself. 

It’s possible to get a personal loan, but most companies are skeptical about giving resources to tiny house projects. 

Insurance Companies Hate Tiny Houses

Again, tiny houses are a big risk not just for mortgage companies but also for insurance companies. You’ll be fortunate enough if you’ll be able to get RV insurance for your tiny house, but this option is not always guaranteed and is usually a difficult process. 

Getting insurance for your tiny home can even get trickier if it is built on a permanent foundation. 

For insurance companies, tiny homes are prone to road accidents and damages due to harsh weather conditions like storms. 

[Must Read: Tiny Homes In Storms: How to Stay Safe]

Not Much Room for Personal Space

In a survey conducted by Freedom Debt Relief, they polled 1,028 American homeowners, and they found that many of these people have lots of regrets. Thirty percent of the polled US homeowners say that the house they bought is too small. 

They probably wished they had more room for personal space. Living in a tiny house means you have to accept the fact that you may not have a personal room as you would in a traditional house. 

Yes, there’s just not much privacy in a tiny home, and you may not have any space you can call your own in a home with only about 400 square feet of livable space. 

This can be really challenging for families with children. Day after day, it’s hard for them to ignore the fact that they live in such a small place. Many tiny house owners move back to a larger traditional home because they needed more space for their kids. 

Finding Places to Park

If your tiny house is on wheels, you need to find a place to park your home. Some areas will not let you park your portable tiny home permanently within city limits. 

You can find campgrounds and parks where you can park your home for a specific period. However, parking in these places is just temporary. 

Final Thoughts

Without a doubt, tiny homes are better for the environment. The principle of tiny house lifestyle emphasizes on living with little to no clutter, zero waste management, making fewer carbon footprints, using green building materials, and getting closer to the environment. 

The tiny house lifestyle will also teach you to use fewer appliances, donate clothes, and reuse and recycle household items and materials. When you do these things, you contribute to the environment. Small steps toward a greener future should never be underestimated. 

Yet, there are challenges with living in a tiny house. And if you want to make changes by downsizing, you have to deal with the drawbacks. When you live in a tiny home, you may not have as much privacy as you have in a traditional house. You will also be constantly finding parking spots.

Related Questions

What are the pros of living in a tiny house?

Living in a tiny house means you’ll have lower expenses, lower energy use, and freedom to move to places. You can also live a simpler life and get more connected with nature. 

Is it cheaper to buy or build a tiny house?

The cost of your tiny house depends on several variables, including if you buy or build it. The design, size, materials to be used, and location also play a role in determining the price of a tiny house.