“You’re building what?” I uttered in disbelief. I stared ahead at what looked like the construction site for a fancy little fort. I’d never heard of a tiny house so when my friend Tamara showed me the home she and her husband were building, I was thoroughly confused. In fact, I thought it was a joke.
Like many people who have joined the tiny house movement, Tamara and her husband longed to live in a more sustainable, affordable, and eco-friendly way. And I’ve got to commend them. Once I grasped the noble motivation behind tiny houses, and saw them embark on their unique new lifestyle, I realized that it takes a lot of commitment and determination to dramatically downsize and put your values into action.
Of course, building and living in a tiny house also takes a lot of innovation and hard work. The logistics can be tricky—especially when it comes to figuring out the best way to power your new home. While being completely off the grid is the goal of some tiny house dwellers, this isn’t the case for the majority. So, if you, like my friend Tamara, are aiming to live more sustainably and minimally in your tiny house while not being completely cut off from society, what options do you have to power your humble abode? Let’s look at some common power possibilities for your tiny house and explore the best option for powering it sustainably.
Power Options for Your Tiny House
You have options when it comes to choosing how to power your tiny house. But the right choice for you depends greatly on a number of factors. While the idea of being totally self-sufficient when it comes to energy is a thrilling thought for all you eco-conscious folks, there are some drawbacks you should be aware of.
Here are some of the most common options for powering tiny homes and the benefits and shortfalls of each:
Solar panels are fairly common on tiny homes as a partial power source or as a primary source of power in off-the-grid situations. The trouble is that the price of solar panels is pretty steep. Many owners of tiny homes can’t fork out a big chunk of cash to pay for the panels in the first place. Plus, it can be tricky to figure out your tiny house’s electric load and the number of solar panels you’ll actually need for sufficient power. If you can afford them, they could be a good choice in areas that see a lot of sun, but in places with lots of cloud cover they may not be able to produce enough energy to power your home. If this is the case, you’ll likely need a backup generator or other power source.
A few owners of tiny homes have installed wind turbines on top of their tiny houses with mixed results. It can be a decent option if you are planning to live off the grid, but only in a reliably windy area. Like solar panels, a small turbine may not be able to generate enough power if the area isn’t consistently windy. In that case, a backup generator or back up solar power will be needed.
Most tiny houses are actually just hooked up to regular local utilities just as a standard home would be. While this is most definitely the simplest option, it may not be very appealing if you are fully committed to the green lifestyle and have a goal of reducing or eliminating your carbon footprint. Fortunately, when it comes to connecting with traditional electricity sources, there is a way to be hooked up to standard utilities and still be a green consumer.
Renewable Energy Credits for Tiny Homes
Thanks to third-party energy suppliers that sell Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), sourcing sustainable energy for your tiny home through your regular utility can be effortless, affordable, and reliable. RECs give you the option of offsetting your energy use with credits from renewable sources like wind, solar, biofuel, and geothermal without having to purchase and install the infrastructure yourself. It really is the best of both worlds.
Seems too good to be true, right? Here’s how it works: third-party energy suppliers purchase Renewable Energy Credits from our nation’s existing alternative power infrastructure and offer it to you, the consumer, to purchase. Every REC represents one megawatt hour of renewable energy (just over the amount that an average household uses monthly) that has been produced and distributed into the power grid. While purchasing a REC doesn’t ensure that your tiny house will be powered solely by renewable energy (an impossible feat our modern grid doesn’t allow), it does completely offset your energy consumption and ensure that renewable energy resources are being supported.
Renewable energy from sustainable sources is a dream for many tiny house dwellers. But short of building a windmill or putting solar panels on the roof and praying for eternal wind and sunshine, it can appear to be inaccessible—especially considering that one of the major draws of tiny living is its affordability and simplicity. Thankfully, RECs make it possible to source clean, green energy without having an additional financial burden or dealing with tricky installations. I’ll bet tiny house living seems a lot less daunting now, right?
Renewable Energy Credits, or RECs, from Liberty Power allow you to power your tiny home and ensure that enough clean energy is produced to offset your electricity use —reducing your carbon footprint and helping create a healthier planet. Visit our Liberty Green page to learn more about making the switch to a green energy plan.
Photo Credit: Andrew Ridley