A footprint is, in its most basic sense, the mark our feet leave behind after we take a step, but over the years it has taken on many other connotations. You can now buy a footprint for your tent, which is a piece of fabric cut specifically for the area of the ground the bottom of your tent covers so you don’t have to carry extra tarp and can still protect it from wear. ‘Footprint’ can be used to describe the shape of the base of a structure, such as saying ‘an “L” or “H” shaped footprint’. More recently we talk about our environmental, social, or economic footprint, taking the idea a step further to describe not just the physical mark or area covering the ground, but the metaphysical space that our lives take up and what we leave behind.
The tiny house movement covers all of these aspects, and in addition to reducing the physical space that we occupy, many of us are also interested in reducing our other ‘footprints’; from carbon emissions, to what we take from the community we live in, to being conscious of what we let spill into the environment which surrounds us.
Tiny Tech is the variety of tricks and tools we use to reduce our footprint, from making an iPad your computer to putting a coffee can or rock in a high flow toilet to reduce water consumption. For years many American products were built around the ‘bigger is better’ ideas. Hummers, multi door refrigerators, and king size beds under vaulted ceilings became the ideal, but many people are coming to realize that things like these are hardly a necessity and in fact distract from the things truly important in life.
In this two part blog we’ll talk about some basic tips and clever technology to reduce our footprints and live more efficiently without having to give up the things we love. These are only a few ideas, please feel free to leave comments or share your experiences with us!
Energy saving tips:
While there are many energy saving tricks from extra coverings on your windows in winter to making sure your heat or A.C. is off when you are not there, living tiny makes many of these easier (since it is a small space it is much quicker to heat or cool) and because the overall energy usage in a tiny house is much less than a full sized house. Studies show that halving the square footage reduces energy usage by 36%. Because of this it is easy to make your home efficient, especially by following the old tried and true tricks of keeping the windows and doors closed in winter to hold in heat and employing simple practices like washing and rinsing dishes in a tub so the water isn’t running.
One thing to keep in mind is that in such a small space any energy usage can alter the environment considerably. Making a large meal on the stove can heat up the house considerably, an unpleasant prospect in hot weather. Putting a pot of water on and leaving it boiling too long can cause the humidity to shoot up.
This can be an advantage when the house is cold or dry, and simply making sure that a window is cracked or a fan is running while you are cooking can all but eliminate any negative outcome of living in a small space.
Space saving tips:
Keep things in a drawer. Drawers are a great use of space, they can store while providing easy access to spaces under counters and beds, as well as low areas when a cabinet can be a pain to get in to (think about getting that grout cleaner you haven’t used for a while from under the bathroom sink). An easy and quick trick for those low drawers is to keep a pen handy to label the tops of cans or bottles so that you can easily see what everything is without having to stoop over and pull each item up until you find what you are looking for.
Hanging things on walls or shelves is also a good option for areas with restricted space. With a home that moves around frequently, cabinets with a latch might be the best option to keep things from falling to the floor. This is an especially handy trick for areas above counters or other spaces where you won’t be standing directly next to or leaning against the walls.
There are many other ways to use space effectively and you will find that by employing one or more of these ideas your living space will seem to grow!