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Small House Design Ideas: 10 Best Energy Saving Tips

Tiny House Design Ideas:

Looking for some energy saving design tips for your tiny house?

Check out this video to learn how you can live more sustainably in a house designed for energy efficiency, while saving tons of money.

Reducing your carbon footprint and lowering your energy bills often go hand in hand.

So check out these top 10 tips for improving the energy efficiency of your tiny house with smart design.


Dan's house the Flouch at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

Dan’s house the Flouch at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.

10. Design your house for passive solar benefits.
The essence of passive solar design is harnessing the natural conditions of sun and shade to heat or cool your house without the use of artificial means.
Learn everything you can about passive solar design, because the payoff will be huge.
The tiny house design ideas in this article are a great place to start.


9. Factor landscaping into your plans.
An inexpensive way to improve the energy efficiency of your tiny house as well as its curb appeal is to choose landscaping elements that will accentuate the area around your home.
For example, you can reduce the exterior temperature of your eastern and western walls by as much as 10% just by shading them. Your best bet is a trellis planted with broad-leaf vines, like grapes. Foliage will die back in the winter, allowing you to capitalize on that solar energy when it’s working to your advantage.
Dense vegetation, or a decorative retaining wall, on the north side will shield your home from harsh winter winds. A fountain or small fish pond on the south side can provide a welcome breath of cool air in the summertime.


8. Utilize advanced framing techniques.

House framing has come a long way over the last few decades in the prevention of thermal bridging.
The goal of insulation is to keep heat in during the winter and out during the summer. But thermal bridging allows heat energy to move around the insulation and through the walls, leading to an uncomfortable home and higher energy bills.
An excellent side-effect of advanced framing techniques is that you will use less wood in the construction of your tiny house, which is good for the environment as well as your pocketbook.


7. Insulate your home adequately.

Insulation will add to the initial cost outlay of your home construction, but it will pay dividends over time in saved energy. There are many materials options and they each bring something different to the party. This website will help you sort out your options.

Also, if you live in the USA, check out this great chart to determine how much insulation you need, based on where your home will be located.


6. Choose an efficient water heating system.

A solar-based water heating system is an efficient an ecological tool to heat water for your household needs, while expending minimal energy to do it. You’ll also save lots of space inside your home, because most of the components are external.
The US Department of Energy has an excellent website explaining the difference systems currently available and their pros and cons.

If a solar-based system won’t work for you, your next best choice is an on-demand water heater. It operates on the premise of heating only the water you need, at the time that you need it.
This avoids spending energy to heat a quantity of water, only to have it sit idle and cool off before you use it. You’ll also avoid unwanted extra ambient heat inside your home.


5. Install a cool roof.
A “cool roof” is simply an advanced reflective material that prevents heat energy from absorbing into the roof of your home.

You can drastically save on summer cooling costs with this technology, especially during times of peak energy usage. You’ll also extend the longevity of your roofing materials by shielding them from the sun’s ravages.


4. Include a compressible filler layer in your foundation.

One of the main sources of air infiltration in a house is the juncture between its foundation and its walls. Often times, this narrow gap is completely uninsulated, making indoor temperature control difficult to manage.

A compressible filler layer is a strip of synthetic foam that is applied to the upper surface of a foundation, before the baseboards are installed for the walls. When the house is finished, this foam is compressed under the weight of the materials, which effectively seals any slender gaps between wood and masonry.


3. Choose the highest quality windows you can afford.

Between 15 and 22% of energy loss is through your windows.
By installing Energy Star models, (you could go as high as quadruple paned windows,) you will save tons of energy year round.


2. Manage your heating and cooling with an air source heat pump.

An air source heat pump is a super-efficient HVAC system that grabs heat molecules from the air and invites them inside to sit in a comfortable chair and have some cocoa
A model sized for an average family dwelling will run you around $3000, including installation, but the energy savings you experience will be HUGE.


1. Consider a closed loop geothermal heat pump.

If you don’t plan on building a mobile tiny house, you could cut your heating bill by anywhere from 40 to 70%, and your cooling costs by as much as 30 to 40%, with the installation of a closed loop geothermal heat pump. (There are other types of geothermal heat pumps, but the closed loop system offers the most potential for energy savings.)

Basically, this technology works by taking advantage of the constant temperature just below the surface of the soil to moderate the temperature inside your home.

Depending on the model of system you choose, installation could be quite expensive, but these can be offset with the help of federal tax credits for a rebate of up to 30%.


Bonus: Get a blower door test.

Suppose you had a hole in your wall, big enough to crawl through.

You’d fix it, right?

In reality, most houses have scads of little pinholes and cracks that are easily overlooked – but if you add them all together, they amount leaving a window open 24/7.

It all comes down to a metric called air changes per hour.

A blower door test will determine how many air changes are happening in your home, and give you a clear sense of how much you could stand to benefit by making minor repairs around the house.

Let me know how it goes on your place!

Category: Sustainable Living, Videos

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