Tiny-home trend models sustainability to all homeowners

(BPT) – Imagine selling your 2,700 square-foot home — the average size American house — and moving to a modest 400 square-foot home that substantially reduces your environmental footprint.

Sound radical? Yes, but many people actually are making this decision, which is why the tiny house movement is gaining so much attention.

Tiny houses typically are between 100 and 400 square feet and are built to maximize every inch of space. Some people choose a tiny house as their main residence, while others find it a great option for a vacation home.

While one advantage of a tiny house is its relatively small energy use, every size house can benefit from enhanced energy efficiency. That’s why Plastics Make it Possible and Zack Giffin, co-host of FYI Network’s “Tiny House Nation,” teamed up to build a 170 square-foot house using advanced plastic building products that can improve energy efficiency in any size home.

Even if you’re not interested in moving to a tiny house, there are many attributes of this tiny house that can help improve energy efficiency, lighten a home’s environmental footprint, and save money on heating and cooling. Here’s a look at some of the materials and building strategies used to create the Plastics Make it Possible tiny house.

Insulate, insulate, insulate

* Spray polyurethane foam insulation expands to fill spaces in walls and attics, sealing tough-to-reach corners and cracks to help dramatically improve energy efficiency. Spray foam insulation also helps keep out dust, dirt, and insects.

* Plastic foam insulation, such as polyisocyanurate foam board, applied to the outside of walls (under the siding) can help prevent untreated outdoor air from reaching the wall materials and framing.

* Durable polystyrene foam insulation provides an insulating barrier beneath the flooring. This is particularly useful for a tiny house mounted to a platform on an outdoor trailer.

Seal the building “envelope”

To improve the energy efficiency of any size house, it’s critical to reduce unwanted airflow between inside and outside. Advanced building materials help ensure that a house’s building envelope — the barrier between indoors and outdoors — can resist this airflow.

* Strong yet flexible, water-resistant plastic (such as silicone) caulking and sealants help fill gaps around pipes, air ducts, plug outlets, and other places where outside air can enter a house. Plastic caulking is easy to apply and resists heat and moisture for a long-lasting seal.

* Plastics such as vinyl have a high resistance to heat and cold, which is one reason vinyl window frames can be excellent insulators. Some windows with plastic frames incorporate air gaps to help reduce the transfer of outside temperatures into the house.

* Vinyl siding and trim can provide an additional barrier between indoors and out, plus they are low-maintenance and resilient. Many options today are dent-resistant and manufactured to withstand the elements and resist fading.

* Many modern front doors are made with durable materials that look remarkably like wood grain. A plastic composite door coating and plastic foam core can provide an extra insulating barrier to the elements.

* Upscale luxury vinyl flooring can look like wood, stone, or tile — it’s soft, low maintenance, and adds a moisture barrier between indoors and out.

Capture energy from above

* New plastic solar shingles can harness the power of the sun while protecting the roof. Durable, engineered plastic solar shingles have the aesthetic and profile of traditional shingles while eliminating the bulk and height of traditional solar panels.

* Tough plastic skylights can provide natural daylight, thermal resistance, and UV protection to help save energy. How tough is tough? Many are made from a primary material in “bullet-proof” glass: polycarbonate plastic.

Even if you have no plans to join the tiny house movement, you can take advantage of the above modern building materials to save energy. A well-insulated house with a tight building envelope can reduce energy use and related greenhouse gas emissions, save homeowners money on energy bills, and contribute to sustainability.


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Posted by on Aug 22 2016. Filed under Green. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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