How Smaller Houses Create a Smaller Carbon Footprint

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 09 July 2014 06:34




The sluggish economic recovery in the U.S. has given people less purchasing power than they had before. As a result, new homeowners want smaller houses that make the most of every square inch of space. Small houses have another advantage over larger ones: lower heating and cooling bills. Smaller homes help people decrease their carbon footprints and ward off the effects of climate change.

If you’re thinking of building a smaller house, consider some of the advantages of living in less square footage. In addition to improving energy efficiency by building a home with a smaller footprint, you’re encouraging sustainability, and you’re putting innovative energy conservation products within your financial reach. Click this link to review small house plans, and incorporate these tips to make your small house as energy efficient as possible.

Take Advantage of the Sun

When you first choose your lot, note how the sun would interact with your new home. Ideally, your small house should be longer east to west than it is north to south so that it can take better advantage of the sun’s warmth. If you’re building in a cool climate, choose a house plan that’s more compact so that the home isn’t too elongated in any direction. Place living areas on the southern side of the house and bedrooms on the north side for optimal energy usage.

Sun exposure typically helps to keep energy bills down in the winter, but it can wreak havoc on energy bills in the summer. Extend the roof overhang or add gabled windows to let in more sun in winter and less sun in summer. If your view to the south is amazing and you want to build large windows, apply a slightly tinted window glaze that can deflect some solar heat and provide extra insulation. Sloped ceilings make better use of natural light in some rooms, and you can use other tricks, such as mirrors, light-colored paints and clerestory windows to make small rooms feel more light and airy.

For a truly energy efficient existence, install photovoltaic panels. Because your home is smaller, it won’t need as much electricity and heat. You can sell the excess solar energy that you generate back to your electric company and quickly recoup your investment. You may also be eligible for energy-efficiency tax credits.

Innovative Energy Efficiency Products

Small homes increase sustainability because they require fewer building materials. Transporting fewer building materials means less fossil fuel burned and lower emissions. Also, because they require lower quantities of building materials, homeowners can afford materials of higher quality, including some of today’s most sustainable energy efficient products. Some examples include:

·         Denim insulation.In 2006, Cotton Incorporated created an initiative titled “From Blue to Green (BtG),” which was designed to transform the 200 million tons of unwanted denim headed for landfills into insulation for homes. Arizona-based insulation company Bonded Logic developed denim insulation (90 percent denim, 10 percent binding materials) that uses an EPA-registered borate solution to make it resistant to mold, pests, bacteria and fire. The product, called Ultratouch, contains no formaldehyde or airborne pollutants.

·         Fiber-cement siding. Fiber cement combines wood pulp, water, Portland cement (made limestone, clay and iron) and either silica sand or fly ash to create siding that is fire, wind and termite-proof. It gives homes the look of wood clapboards for a fraction of the cost; some insurance companies in wildfire-prone areas offer discounts for fiber cement. Choose fiber cement that’s made from wood pulp certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Also, paint or stain the siding with low-VOC products.

·         Reclaimed materials. It costs more to take advantage of reclaimed materials when building a home, but the beauty of many of these materials—combined with the advantages of reusing materials instead of throwing them in a landfill—makes the cost worthwhile. Since a smallhouse helps you stretch your budget, you can afford that reclaimed barn wood floor or that beautiful carved door that another homeowner no longer wants.

Small house plans put sustainability, environmental friendliness and lower energy costs within the average homeowner’s budget. Work with a talented builder or architect that can maximize the space and make it seem more open. You’ll not only design a home you’ll love but also create a better world.

Small house with solar panels image by U.S. Department of Agriculture from Flickr Creative Commons.

New Orleans Musicians’ Village house image by Aaron Gustafson from Flickr Creative Commons.

Solar Decathlon house image by Department of Energy Solar Decathlon from Flickr Creative Commons.





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