In recent years, tiny homes have become a popular living option for many adults who want to reduce their ecological footprint. In fact, one researcher found that the average tiny home owner uses 45 percent less energy than they did in their previous full-size home. While downsizing naturally requires a shift to a minimalist lifestyle and cuts back on the amount of light and heat you would need, there are additional ways you can smartly hack your tiny house to be even more sustainable. Here, we’ll share our favorite eco-friendly tiny house tips to take your environmental impact down a notch further.
Rely on the Sun
Taking advantage of the sun’s free light and heat is the easiest way to shave down your energy consumption. Installing solar panels may be a larger upfront financial investment, but you’ll save money in the long run. In fact, calculations show that the average household can save $1,390 a year by going solar, though this number will fluctuate based on where you live. To check your potential savings, type your location into Google’s solar savings estimator. Keep in mind that since tiny homes are quite small, you won’t need to install too many solar panels to power your space.
As you’re designing your sustainable tiny house, be sure to leverage windows to reduce (or, in sunny areas, completely eliminate) your need for artificial light during the day. Strategically installing large skylights and windows on doors and along walls can light up most of your tiny house, which will also clear up precious floor space where you might’ve had to put a lamp.
PRO TIP: We recommend using light-colored paint and wallpaper to really catch and reflect sunlight. Since you’ll still likely need to have a lamp here and there for evening hours and nooks, consider adding plenty of wall mirrors to give your space a bigger, airier feel.
Upgrade Your Insulation
Insulating your tiny house properly goes right along with eco-friendly energy sources like solar panels. About 35 percent of heat loss happens through uninsulated walls or the gaps in your windows and doorways. Mounting storm windows on the inside or outside of your main windows can improve thermal insulation and add an extra layer of protection from wind, rain and hail. You should also routinely clean the jambs on your windows and check for any cracks or leaks that need caulking. As you’re thinking about what insulation materials to install in your walls, you can choose from cheap and lightweight batts (fiberglass), eco-conscious denim, concrete blocks, polystyrene and more. Our favorite option is blow-in cellulose insulation that uses 85 percent organic materials like wool and paper, and is relatively inexpensive.
PRO TIP: It’s not just walls that need insulation. Since heat rises, you should pay special attention to roof insulation to keep heat circulating within your home. You’ll also need to pad the floors to prevent heat seepage, especially if you live in a tiny house on wheels (a “THOW”).
Become a DIY Expert
There’s literally no room for single-use tools or junk in a tiny home, so now’s the time to really make every item in your space show off its range. Instead of having multiple cleaning detergents, shampoos, conditioners and soaps, make use of Dr. Bronner’s renowned “18-in-1” castile soap to create your own dish soap, laundry detergent, floor cleaners, body wash and more. If you have outdoor space, grow your own organic vegetable garden and herb wall to save money on groceries and supply yourself with fresh produce. And if you’re looking to furnish your tiny house, scratch your DIY itch by teaching yourself some basic woodworking skills or purchasing items secondhand from thrift stores.
PRO TIP: There are plenty of additional ways you can have a more eco-friendly tiny house, whether it’s composting, buying items in bulk or washing your clothes in cold water. Check out our list of essential tips on easy eco-friendly home hacks for greener living.