Tiny homes are having a moment. These buildings, which can house families in as little as 100 square feet, require people to get creative about how to cram their entire lives into an area smaller than most bedrooms. One advantage of such a drastic consolidation of your lifestyle is the ability to bring your utility bills down to an absolute minimum, as there’s simply not very much space to heat or light, not to mention little room for energy-hogging appliances and devices. Read on to learn more about how to power a tiny house and prepare yourself for an ultra-efficient lifestyle.
How to Power a Tiny House
Unless you want to get truly rustic, you’ll need electricity in your tiny house, and maybe a gas supply as well. If your house is in a permanent location, you might be able to hook into your local electric and gas utilities. If that’s not possible, there are other options for tiny home electricity.
Solar panels are one possibility, but a more common tiny home power source is to simply plug the whole house into an already established dwelling using an extension cord. Always conduct due diligence about how much voltage you will require before plugging in, but since the energy demands of tiny houses are so low you’re unlikely to cause major problems on the circuit in the source building.
When natural gas hookups aren’t possible, one option is to use a portable propane tank to power a stove, or forgo a stove altogether in favor of something smaller like a microwave or toaster oven. Along the same lines, you might find that an electric space heater is sufficient to warm the house, depending on the building’s size, insulation and geographic location.
Minimizing Your Tiny Home’s Energy Usage
The average size of a new house in the United States is 2,687 square feet. Tiny homes are generally no larger than 400 square feet, and often much smaller. That means that your electric and gas bills are necessarily going to cost you less (if you have a gas bill at all) – think about how little energy it takes to heat 200 square feet as opposed to 2,000. The same goes for air conditioning in the summer.
What’s more, tiny homes are frequently new construction, tailored specifically to the tastes and requirements of the residents, so you have the opportunity to ensure that your new house has top-of-the-line insulation and weather sealing so your heater and AC have even less work to do.
Tiny Homes, Tiny Electricity Bills
By the very nature of its diminutive size, a tiny house will limit your opportunity to consume huge amounts of electricity. Take light bulbs. The average U.S. home has about 40 light sockets, according to Energy Star, accounting for about 20 percent of annual electricity consumption. You might be able to illuminate your tiny home with just four or five bulbs, cutting down your lighting bills by nearly 90 percent. What’s more, your reduced square footage likely means a smaller refrigerator and fewer kitchen devices overall, not to mention a marked dearth of other electronic devices – there’s just not enough space.
Many handy inhabitants take the next steps and actively make their houses even more efficient with upgrades like solar panels and graywater systems to truly push their tiny house energy consumption to the minimum. With a bit of work, and if you don’t mind doing without a few modern conveniences, there’s almost no limit to how efficient you can push your tiny house to be.