Sunday, May 8, 2016

What's the Big Deal about Tiny Houses?

Tiny house, Globe, Arizona   (photo: Jan Barry) 

By Cassandra Bernyk

You may have heard about or even seen within the past couple of years a house that is much smaller than your typical American home. Tiny house living is a movement that is becoming increasingly popular in our nation.

To understand what exactly a ‘tiny house’ is, a typical American home is around 2,600 square feet, and the typical tiny house is between 100 to 400 square feet.

Americans making the decision to downsize to these small homes are becoming more environmentally conscious as well as addressing financial concerns. About a third to half of a typical American’s paycheck may go towards living in a ‘regular sized’ house. This is hard for some families to do over the course of many years. Converting to a tiny house can help simplify your life and help make sound fiscal plans, enjoy life adventures, self-sufficiency, and become more environmentally consciousness.
Owning a tiny house can make you more environmentally conscious and friendly, too. Having such a smaller space encourages you own less clutter  and to have a much smaller ecological footprint.

In terms of electricity, a tiny house consumes about 914 kWh/year, which amounts to 1,144 pounds of CO2. In comparison, an average sized home consumes about 12,773 kWh/ year, which amounts to 16,000 pounds of CO2 released into our atmosphere. Heating a tiny house produces about 558 pounds of CO2 per year; compared to heating an average sized home that produces 8,000 pounds of CO2 per year. Cooling a tiny house produces about 286 pounds of CO2 per year; compared to cooling an average sized home which produces about 4,000 pounds of CO2 per year.

In total, a tiny house releases about 2,000 pounds of CO2 annually as compared to an average sized home releasing about 28,000 pounds of CO2 into our atmosphere.
Now that many facts about owning a tiny house have been covered, there are tons of different types and models of tiny houses out in the world today. There are different projects and companies that have taken their own spin on this tiny house movement. For example, in Eugene, Oregon there is a tiny house village that was built specifically for people without homes and making it realistic for them to live in one.

The tiny house village is called “Opportunity Village Eugene” and has recently paired up with the company, SunJack, that makes portable solar chargers. These solar charges were placed on the roofs of the tiny houses, making the energy bills of the homes much lower while teaching a community about renewable energy. Each tiny house is about 60 to 80 square feet. All together over 30 homeless people now have a place to live with kitchens, bathrooms, computer and Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, and more. The residents of this village pay a $30 utility fee per month along with doing community service hours.

This project is a brilliant way to help out those who are without a home, due to how expensive owning a full sized house can be, along with engaging them with a community teaching them ways to live more sustainably.

An example of a company that is embracing the tiny house movement is “Tumbleweed: Tiny House Company.” Taking a look at the models Tumbleweed offers, they just prove that you do not have to sacrifice beauty for a smaller living situation. Every inch of space is utilized in a way that it is efficient yet not too crowding. While offering four already made models, Tumbleweed encourages the “Do It Your Own” aspect of this movement. They offer floor plans, workshops and more, to make it as simple as it can get to build your very own dream tiny house.
While the tiny house movement’s ideal is to downsize and live small, there is nothing small or tiny about the environmentally friendly impacts they are having on our Earth. This movement is proving to be a great move to live more sustainably, while giving folks who currently have no place to call home, the opportunity to do that. Hopefully, with time we can further expand these projects and companies to make an even larger impact on the world.

Cassandra Bernyk is a sophomore at Ramapo College pursuing a B.A in Environmental Studies with a minor in Food Studies.

1 comment:

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