Tiny houses put homeowners on the path to eco-friendly living. Maria Saxton, a Ph. D. candidate in environmental planning and design at Virginia Tech recently conducted a study of 80 tiny-house owners and found that their “ecological footprints were reduced by about 45% on average.”
Many of the reductions come from pretty obvious areas. People who live in tiny houses tend to waste less food, generate less refuse, and use less energy at home than people who live in bigger spaces. On average, tiny homes generate 5,578 pounds less CO2 than the average home.
But there are always ways to do even more for the environment. While just 100 companies account for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions, everyday people can still practice eco-friendly habits so that they won’t have a large environmental impact. Besides, it never hurts to be a little greener.
Let’s take a look at some ways you can have an even tinier carbon footprint from the comfort of your tiny house.
Use Compost for Heat
Even with a tiny house, heating uses a lot of energy and creates a great deal of carbon. That’s why a lot of eco-friendly advice recommends turning the thermostat down: even a couple of degrees can make a lot of difference in terms of energy use.
In a tiny house, you can use your compost to generate heat for your home and water. This has a couple of environmental benefits:
- Composting waste means there’s less waste going to landfills.
- It reduces the need for a traditional oil, electric, or gas heating system.
Of course, this is only possible if you’re able to compost. You need space for a compost bin and it requires regular maintenance. If your heat relies on composting though, you’ll likely be pretty motivated to keep up with it.
Use the Sun
Solar energy is one of the best ways to make any home more eco-friendly. Installing panels is a large upfront cost, but it’s a long-term investment. For instance, an air conditioning system that works with solar power can save “80 to 90 percent of the energy required to cool a home,” which means owners would see savings sooner rather than later.
Tiny houses also have an advantage over standard houses when it comes to solar energy. One of the limitations of solar is the difficulty in storing energy so there tends to be some waste or loss. A tiny house needs fewer panels and uses less energy than a large home. As a result, owners can optimize how many panels they install to avoid wasting much energy.
Be Mindful of Pollutants
Cars and trucks are huge pollutants both because of their design and how integral they are to modern society. There’s some pollution that can be avoided, however: Don’t let the engine idle.
Whenever you’re stuck in gridlock traffic or at a long red light, you can turn off the engine to avoid using some gas. This simple maneuver prevents a car or truck from putting unnecessary carbon into the air. It also has the added benefit of reducing the amount of gas that a driver uses so the tank won’t need to be filled as often.
Tiny house owners should pay particular attention to this advice. If your house is on wheels, the ability to move easily is great, but burning that fuel can hurt the environment. When you’re on the road, don’t let your engine idle. Simply turning your car or truck off while moving your house can reduce the amount of carbon going into the air.
Consumerism is almost a hidden pollutant between all the carbon put into the air during shipping and plastic waste created when items are thrown away.
As noted before, tiny house owners tend to consume fewer goods in part because they don’t have much storage space. This makes them eco-conscious almost by necessity.
That said, it can be easy to get complacent and it’s understandable to want to buy new things. Try to avoid unnecessary purchases and only buy what you really need. In cases where you truly need something, look for goods with minimal or sustainable packaging so that you’re not generating more refuse than you need to.
Think About Your Food Choices
The food industry has a huge carbon footprint. Food waste alone contributes to 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Your eating and shopping habits can have a profound effect on your carbon footprint. Changing your diet, or even just sticking to the essentials so you don’t waste any food can go a long way towards making you a more environmentally friendly person.
Think about small things like buying less red meat or using reusable bags instead of buying produce that’s been wrapped in plastic. Not only would you be doing something good for the environment, but you’d also probably be saving yourself some money too.
All in all, living in a tiny house is a sustainable choice. Taking some extra steps can make your carbon footprint even smaller and make you an even better friend to the environment.