Alright, I admit it: I love HGTV. From House Hunters to Fixer Upper, I find shows about searching for and improving homes wildly entertaining. A show I watched recently followed a family of four as they went in search of a tiny house. The house they eventually settled on was a mere 250 square feet and had no defined bedrooms! While I am definitely not willing to move my own family into a house that small, I respect this family’s decision. In addition to saving money, one of their reasons for downsizing from a larger house was due to environmental concerns. There is no doubt that “going tiny” is better for Mother Earth.

Lower Costs, Higher Quality

Tiny houses are typically defined as being 400 square feet or less. A smaller house means fewer building materials needed. The result is fewer trees cut down and a reduction in the amount of fossil-fuels being burned in transporting materials. There is also a greater potential to use more environmentally friendly materials, which are often more expensive than their cheaper, traditional counterparts. Tiny house owners also save money on “life-cycle” costs, or monies spent on replacing items such as cabinet fixtures or faucets. A 2014 study conducted at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University concluded that tiny homes can save almost 40% in life-cycle costs over larger homes. Better quality and money saved: a win-win!

Reduced Energy Consumption

The greatest benefit to the environment that tiny houses can have are the reductions in energy usage. A 2010 study from the State of Oregon Department of Environmental Quality demonstrated that almost 90% of a home’s environmental impact is due to its energy usage. This includes the toll taken on the environment from heating, cooling, and lighting the house. Simply put, less space means less energy use. Fewer appliances and water faucets means less electricity and water use. Going tiny is great way to reduce your carbon footprint.

A Change in Lifestyle

Living in a tiny space forces the occupant to completely change their lifestyle. Occupants of tiny houses cannot accumulate stuff in the way people with larger houses do. They are therefore more likely to choose quality over quantity when making purchases and therefore consume less. Additionally, Research conducted at Carleton College has shown that tiny house owners tend to be more aware of their dependence on nature, and are more likely to spend time outdoors than those of us with larger houses. This same study also concluded that tiny house buyers typically spend around $150,000 less on their homes than the average price of a traditional American home. Buyers will often pay for their tiny houses outright and have no mortgage payment…that sounds pretty good!

Despite all the benefits of owning a tiny house, it is still an extremely impractical way of life for most. Humans require time by themselves on occasion, something that you just can’t get inside a tiny house. Still, the dream of simplifying and going tiny is appealing. My grand plan is to build a tiny house “cluster” with one house for me, one for my wife, and one for my kids. My wife will agree to that…right?

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