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Efficient Living in a Small House: Could You Make the Switch?

November 10, 2009 - 7:00am


From time to time over the last few years, I've come across articles and blogs discussing the "Small House Movement." The movement encourages homeowners to reject the huge homes that dominate many suburban neighborhoods and embrace smaller homes and simpler living. Do a quick Web search on the movement and you'll find many photos and testimonials for these small homes—some smaller than 100 square feet.

Many of these homes are fascinating. Not only are the designs innovative, attractive, and comfortable, they are also relatively inexpensive—especially when you consider long-term maintenance costs.

I also like them for their energy efficiency. Think of the potential savings: a smaller home means fewer lights, less space to heat and cool, and smaller appliances. Simply having less room to store things means you would likely buy fewer items that use electricity. Not to mention the time savings; less space and fewer possessions means less to maintain, fix, and clean. Less time cleaning is a definite plus in my book!

Some of my favorite small homes are those built by the Solar Decathlon teams. At roughly 800 square feet, they are larger than some of the truly tiny homes out there, but they are excellent examples of beautifully designed small homes that are energy efficient and that you might actually want to live in. Check out the photos, videos, and virtual tours to get a closer look at these amazing homes. You'll see that they are not just energy-efficient, but also space-efficient homes. The homes still have all of the features and amenities you could want, fit into a smaller space and often ingeniously designed so they are out of the way when not in use.

Small home living would take some adjusting for some of us, but many people have shifted to this way of life and are singing its praises. What do you think about the Small House Movement? Would you consider moving to a smaller house? What changes would you have to make for it to work for you?

If you've already moved to a smaller home, tell us what it was like for you. In your experience, what are the advantages and disadvantages? Any advice for others interested in making the switch?