To fight global waming, live in a tiny house of only 4000 . . . oops . . . 40 sq ft!

April 2, 2007 | By | 4 Replies More

I learned about tiny houses by reading the recent issue of Time Magazine, which featured 51 ideas for “making a difference” regarding global warming. Jay Shafer owns Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, which designs tiny inhabitable houses.  His smallest model is a mind-cramping 40 square foot floorplan. On the other hand, the 240 sq foot models intrigue me. He also has a more spacious 600 sq ft house (including a “great room”) that comfortably sleeps four.  Better make sure your roommates share your idea of what “noise” is . . .

Who is Jay Shafer? 

Since 1997 I have been living in a house smaller than some people’s bathrooms. I call the first of my little hand built houses Tumbleweed (left). My decision to inhabit just 100 square feet arose from some concerns I had about the impact a larger house would have on the environment, and because I do not want to maintain a lot of unused or unusable space. My houses have met all of my domestic needs without demanding much in return. The simple, slower lifestyle my homes have afforded is a luxury for which I am continually grateful.

Shafer’s claims that his homes are designed to withstand a 180 mph wind–a legitimate concern that he addresses in his site.  A big payoff, of course, is the reduced energy usage:

All of the houses are very well insulated and easy to heat and cool to any desired temperature. I typically spent less than $170 on propane to heat my house during the brutal Iowa winter (that is for the entire winter), and I spend next to nothing to cool it during summers.

Even if a 240 sq ft house is not interesting to you, the fact that people are selling and living in such houses explodes some preconceptions of what is “necessary.”  I’ve written on this topic of wasteful consumerism here and here and here.


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Category: Consumerism, Energy, Environment, global warming

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Smaller houses, bigger lives : Dangerous Intersection | January 29, 2013
  1. Ben says:

    I will assume that the term "2-car garage" is not part of his vocabulary. On the other hand, I guess it would be odd to have a garage which dwarfs your house. I wonder if he is frugal about everything (like deodorant, for example), I mean, doesn't everyone have to draw the line somewhere?

    Maybe you have heard of these folks, who live "off the grid" in Missouri…

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    Most Americans are currently living far beyond a level that is sustainable in the long term. Nevertheless, they continue to live this way in the hope that they can grab as much planetary booty for themselves as possible before the walls of their fragile society come crashing down around them. It is no longer a question of if, merely of when, this will happen. Unfortunately, it is currently also political suicide for a political candidate to talk about this, and quite beneficial for them not to. It is even more beneficial for them to tell comforting lies that help maintain the delusion that Americans can grow their economy forever.

  3. Joe says:

    People who live in RV's full time have under 400 sq ft of space as a matter of practice. My wife and I plan to full time in a 29' RV and that's under 240 sq ft. It can be done rather comfortably if you put your mind to it.

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