small house

What You Need to Know About Tiny Homes

The typical tiny home has a fraction of the square footage of the standard American home, which averages around 2,600 square feet. These small homes, which can be built to customer preferences, enable people to live a simpler life with less clutter.

Home improvement shows such as HGTV’s Tiny House, Big Living and Tiny House Hunters have given the tiny house movement mainstream exposure. However, these shows typically only focus on design challenges and the home selection process. While the environmental benefits of tiny homes are usually only touched upon briefly, these houses—which can range in size from 100 to 400 square feet—are more than just space-saving novelties. Find out some of the chief environmental benefits of downsizing to a tiny home.

Lower Cost of Construction

Image courtesy Inhabitat | Flickr

Besides being smaller than the average home, tiny houses are also cheaper to purchase, construct, and maintain. As the cost of living rises in many locations, home buying has become increasingly unaffordable. Tiny homes are favored by homebuyers who wish to save money while still reaping the benefits of owning property. According to, approximately 68 percent of the owners of tiny homes own their property outright, and these miniature homes cost about $23,000 to build, leaving the owners with about 55 percent more savings than the average person.

While it may not be obvious to some, housing is a major contributor to some of our most worrisome environmental problems. Combined with a growing population worldwide, and it’s easy to see how home construction can have such a huge impact. When the average home is built, massive amounts of natural resources are used, including wood that may not be sustainably sourced. In order to build the average American home, seven logging trucks are required to transport enough wood for the project. Additionally, it’s estimated that the pollution generated from the average home accounts for nearly 28,000 pounds of greenhouse gases annually. In comparison, the typical tiny home only produces 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

Environmental Benefits of Tiny Homes

Large homes not only require a lot of resources to build, but they also need more natural resources to maintain them. While the average house consumes a large amount of electricity and water, tiny homes are energy efficient by design. They use fewer natural resources in comparison with standard-size homes.

Tiny homes are often built to comply with green energy standards, complete with solar-powered electrical systems and water conserving plumbing systems. Some owners of tiny homes have even opted to completely forgo running water for the sake of the environment. A lot of these owners are perfectly willing to give up some modern conveniences in order to preserve resources and return to a simpler way of life.

One of the main benefits of the tiny house movement is financial. Data shows that Americans often spend up to half of their income on housing, which is quite disparaging considering the fact that more than 75 percent of them have no savings and are living paycheck to paycheck. Add to this the amount of things people store in their homes—from clothes to electronics—and it’s clear that we have many things that we don’t necessarily need. The owners of tiny homes are tasked with getting rid of things that are not as important and living in such a way that does not infringe on our already fragile environment. These owners must figure out how to most efficiently use their space and resources and configure their homes in a way that works well for them.

The small size of tiny homes means they automatically cost less and require fewer resources for heating and cooling. Some are even built with composting toilets designed to reduce water usage. Many tiny houses are constructed with zero waste in mind, and with the proper application of green building technology, this is possible.

What to Consider Before Making the Transition

Image courtesy Inhabitat | Flickr

Despite the numerous benefits of living in a tiny home, there is more to consider before deciding if a tiny home is the right option for you. When moving from a standard-sized home to a tiny home, there will likely be an adjustment period—both in terms of comfort and mind-set. People are generally accustomed to having adequate space in which to move around, entertain, and decorate—and living in a tiny home will challenge these norms.

The tiny house movement is still relatively new, but more people are showing interest in adopting the tiny house lifestyle. People are watching videos related to tiny homes at an increasing rate, and in 2013 alone the phrase “tiny house” was used as an Internet search term nearly 500,000 times.

If you are interested in purchasing a tiny home, you need to change your mind-set about how you view home ownership, energy consumption, and living with limited space in general. The truth is, living in a tiny home will not suit everyone, but those who do embrace it will find that having more space is not necessarily the best choice for them or the environment.