Its intuitive that living in a smaller home can help save energy. Tiny homes have made quite a splash the past few years as a backlash to the McMansions that sprung up across the United States in the mid-2000s, taking up vast amounts of land and then driving up the rate of foreclosures when the recession hit.
Eco-friendly small homes are not only green because of the energy savings they offer, but also given sustainable construction measures implemented in building them. Michael Klement, an architect with Architectural Resource, notes:
“The greenest thing you can do is build as small as you can. The whole size component of green is, I think, one of the things that has been woefully overlooked.”
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently studied how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during home construction. They examined building materials, Energy Star building standards and even considered house-framing techniques to build a straw-bale house. But the biggest “green” bang for the buck was found in simply reducing the size of the home.
If you build a 1,600 square foot home instead of one that is 2,200 square feet in size, you can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1/3. You get a reduced carbon footprint over the entire life of the house – from the building materials, transport of the materials to the construction site, construction itself, heating and powering the home, and remodeling it in the future.
So, maybe you don’t want to live in 100 square feet total, but you can forgo the need for fancy energy-saving technologies simply by cutting down the size of your living space in an eco-friendly small home.
I hear you asking, What if I need a bigger house? Ask yourself – what do I really need. Did you know that home sizes have tripled over the past 50 years, while families have actually gotten smaller? When I was growing up, our family of 5 lived in a modest rambler, about 1,500 square feet in size with a shared bathroom. It was comfortable, if not spacious.
And if that doesn’t sway you, think about the time and energy you will save in not having as much space to clean or furnish!
Builders, developers and architects are designing more efficient, eco-friendly small homes these days, in part because of the increased demand. Getting back to the basics in this economy may require cutting down on certain luxuries that – in the end – really are not contributing to the happiness we thought we were getting with home ownership.
Eco-friendly small homes can free you from debt, large monthly utility bills, and the stress of owning and maintaining so much interior space. Talk about home sweet home!