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Blog Post Sunday 08 September 2019

Tiny Houses: What Are the Energy Benefits of Downsizing?

Tiny Houses: What Are the Energy Benefits of Downsizing?

Ever wondered what it would be like to live in one of those tiny houses often featured in news stories today? Although tiny house living might sound fanciful, it’s now a mainstream trend in homes and it’s been adopted by a good number of people embracing the downsizing shift. So what does tiny house living involve, and how does it help you save energy? We look at the energy-efficiency secrets of tiny house lifestyles.

What is ‘tiny house’ living?

Tiny house living is as much as about minimalist living as it is about helping the environment and cutting costs. Australian homes on average measure around 186 square metres in floor size. In contrast, tiny houses on average span just 17.28 square metres (186 square feet), though they can range from around 9 square metres to 37 square metres (100 to 400 square feet).

Tiny houses are comparable to sheds in size. However, the interiors are carefully designed with space efficiency in mind and they incorporate most if not all the standard appliances and conveniences in regular houses. A tiny home might cost you between $20,000 and $120,000, a smaller sum than an average housing deposit for a regular house. While tiny homes seem to be suited to singles or couples, families with children and pets also inhabit tiny homes.

Tiny houses: energy saving benefits

Tiny house living can significantly cut your energy usage by reducing your heating, lighting, cooling, and other needs.

  • Lighting – With smaller spaces, you’ll be using fewer light bulbs to keep your interiors properly lit. This translates into less electricity for lighting.
  • Heating – Tiny interiors use less energy to stay heated during the colder months of the year, so your heating system won’t need to work as hard.
  • Cooling – Smaller rooms and living areas minimise your cooling needs, saving you on the costs of running air-conditioners.
  • Hot water – Swapping an oversized house for a tiny residence could see you using far less hot water. This could be thanks to smaller (or no) bathtubs, small showers with water-saving shower heads, and tiny kitchens.
  • Cleaning – You’ll have less surface area to mop, dust, and vacuum, which could save you on time as well as energy running appliances.

Also, tiny houses help us collectively save energy by using less lumber and materials. Consider the inputs that go into building a house and readying it for living. These materials need to be manufactured, transported, and installed, and so a tiny house means less energy and resources were used in the building stage.

Lessons on thriving with the tiny lifestyle

Tiny house lifestyles offer fantastic energy-efficiency secrets even if you don’t plan on embracing the tiny house living trend.

  • Smaller spaces – Tiny houses can make energy-saving effortless since smaller spaces correspond with lower energy use. Heating and cooling are significantly easier because of the smaller areas.
  • Efficient appliances – Tiny home design might emphasise smaller as well as more efficient appliances, cutting your power, gas, and water usage.
  • Hot water – Tiny houses often come with additional energy-saving features. For example, you could incorporate a water heater that’s not instant, which you manually turn on before showering.
  • Insulation – A tiny house could use highly efficient insulation options like open-cell spray foam, which fills the whole space between interior and exterior walls. Other insulation and weatherproofing elements include siding, trims, foam board, and doors and windows made from insulating materials.
  • Window placement – The placement of windows relative to the sun can reduce energy needs by leveraging passive heating and cooling. You may also want to consider double glazing for better insulation and temperature regulation.
  • Shades – Features like solar-powered blackout shades can be used to minimise heat loss or support heat gain depending on the weather.
  • Whole-system approach – Some tiny house designs are based on the whole house as a system rather than a collection of parts. By making sure all the elements – from appliances and insulation to heating and cooling and ventilation – work together, you could end up with a better design for energy savings as well as comfort and durability. For example, the insulation system can be coordinated with window placement and skylights to maximise overall lighting and heating/cooling savings.
  • Other savings – With a tiny house, you could be saving on other expenses like council rates, maintenance, and repairs. You’ll need to spend less on furniture for the smaller interiors.

Solar for a tiny house

While moving to a tiny house will substantially lower your utility bills, you’ll still need power for lighting, heating, cooling, and powering other appliances. Solar offers a great option to further reduce what you’re paying for energy because you’ll be able to generate your own clean energy from solar panels. What’s more, if you ever sell up, having a solar panel system could heighten the appeal of your property to buyers and boost your sale price.

Things to consider when deciding on a solar system for your tiny house include:

  • Power requirements – Work out how much electricity your tiny house requires and make sure your solar system is not too large (or too small) for your power needs.
  • Rooftop or ground – If your roof gets plenty of sunlight and is structurally sound, a rooftop system could be perfect. A ground-mounted system, however, gives you more space for a bigger system. It also offers more flexibility when it comes to installing your panels in the optimal direction for capturing sunlight.
  • Grid – If your house is connected to the grid and you produce power more than you need, you can opt for an electricity plan that lets you sell it back to the grid, helping you save even more on electricity.

Start saving on energy now

You don’t have to move into a tiny home to start saving on energy. By applying some of the smart energy-saving lessons of tiny houses, you can make your current home more energy-efficient help out the planet, and pay less for your power bills.

Click Energy aims to make energy as simple as possible, and our great value energy plans – with low usage and supply rates – can help you save more regardless of how big your house is. Get a quick quote now or make the switch today.