Our zero emissions tiny house

water lily pond
Our way to zero emissions home!

One of the biggest reasons for building a tiny house is our desire to live in a zero emissions home. Therefore we only want to use renewable energies to power our appliances. We also want to be independent of power and gas companies, even if they sell green energy. Because we want to go one step further and live a 100% off the grid. I reckon this is doable, especially here in Australia! In the following article, I will explain the off-grid setup we have in mind for our tiny house.

Solar panels for our roof

We will have solar panels on our roof, of course! We already bought our solar power setup because we want to power our tools with solar electricity while building the tiny house. Therefore we have two panels set up already. And they work great!

There will be six solar panels in total sitting on our roof. Each panel will bring in 310 W, so together the six panels should generate 1.86 kW of electricity generously provided by the sun. We will use solar power for our fridge, washing machine, lights and to charge phones and laptops.

Solar hot water for our shower

We will heat our water with a solar hot water heater. The system will be ground-mounted because the water tank is too heavy for our roof. Also, our small roof is already full of solar panels. With the solar hot water system we have in mind, the water tank is directly coupled to the solar collectors. The tank will be around 180 L, that should be enough for two people. We still have to figure out a way to heat water on overcast days. Perhaps a gas booster might do the trick? This is yet to be determined.

Biogas digester for cooking

We want to produce our own biogas, therefore we will have a mini biodigester in front of our tiny house. We will use biogas to power our kitchen gas cooktop and oven.

How does a biodigester work? A biodigester mimics a cow’s stomach. The digester is fed with organic material (organic food scraps, manure, humanure) which is then broken down into biogas in an oxygen-free environment (water). Biogas, therefore, consists mainly of methane and carbon dioxide. In addition to that, we can use the excess water from the digester as fertiliser since it will be rich in nutrients from the decomposing procedure.

Rainwater and grey water collection for us and the garden

We will set up a water collection system for our tiny house in order to collect rainwater. This system will consist of a 5000 L or perhaps even 10,000 L water tank behind the tiny house and guttering around the roof. But our roof is significantly smaller than regular houses, so in order to collect as much water as possible, we will also utilise our front deck canopy for water collection. At this point, we are worried that the tiny house might not be able to collect enough water and also that it might not rain enough in this area. Time will show.

In addition to that, we will collect our grey water and use it for watering our plants. This also means that we will use eco-friendly cleaning products and soaps, since we don’t want to kill our plants, right?!

This is our plan for a zero-emissions tiny house. We’re quite excited to go off grid and can’t wait to see it all in action. We also hope that these efforts will reduce our carbon footprint tremendously.

Living tiny and green – What are the benefits for us?

living tiny and green

We have talked about tiny houses and how we came to the decision to build one. But I haven’t explained what living tiny and green means to us.

For us living tiny and green is a whole new lifestyle. This lifestyle comes with a lot of challenges and changes, no doubt! But we believe that it also comes with a lot of benefits and freedoms.

#1: We will own our own house!

Once the tiny house is finished we can call ourselves house owners.

How great is that? Especially in times like these where buying a house is almost impossible for most people in their 30’s in Australia. Living tiny and green will give us the freedom to do whatever we want in our own space without being restricted by Strata, agency rules and regulations.    

#2: Living tiny and green won’t break the bank.

The beauty of living tiny and green is that it’s quite affordable.

Tiny houses are much smaller in size. The architecture of a tiny house is less complicated. A lot of people also use recycled and reclaimed materials to build their tiny house.

Building a tiny house will give us the freedom of not having to pay off a mortgage for the next 30 years. We’re also trying to use recycled materials where possible to make the build more sustainable.

However, the price for a tiny house still varies and depends on a lot of factors, e.g. building materials, are contractors involved, etc.  

As part of living green, we want to add a permaculture garden to our tiny house. The garden will provide us with organic fresh vegetables and will reduce our weekly grocery shopping budget.

#3: We will be able to go off-grid!

The best part about living tiny and green for us is that it enables us to go fully off-grid.

We want our tiny house to run only on renewable energies. In order to achieve this, we will have solar panels on our roof to power our electric devices. We will have a rainwater and grey water collection system as well as solar hot water. In addition to that, we will have a mini biodigester to produce biogas for our kitchen stove. We will also keep our compost tumbler, however, I’m sure that the biodigester will eat most of our organic waste.

I’m looking forward to making the most of that intense Australian sun! Also, we won’t depend on electricity companies anymore. Isn’t this just the best?!

We’re really excited about the fact that living tiny and green will reduce our carbon footprint tremendously.

#4: We will build the tiny house ourselves!

Building the tiny house ourselves will give us the freedom of putting our individual taste and style into the tiny house. We’re also going to save heaps of money by doing most of the build ourselves.

Most tiny house stories I’ve seen were successful self-builds. And why not? There is certainly a lot of research involved beforehand. And yes, it doesn’t hurt to possess some building skills. But let’s be honest, it really is just a base with four walls and a roof on top.

Building a tiny house is not as complicated as building a gigantic countryside mansion. However, we will hire professionals for a few things like electricals, etc.

#5: Our tiny house will be mobile!!  

We will be living in a fully functioning house and we will be able to move it whenever and wherever you want! How great is that? 

Although we don’t plan on moving the house too often we still have the option to do so should the need arise or we decide to change our scenery. I love this kind of flexibility!

This also means that we have to follow the regulations of Roads & Maritime Services and make sure that our trailer is roadworthy. So, in short, we have to register our trailer and watch the weight of our tiny house.

#6 Our life will be simplified

Who needs big houses and lots of stuff? I don’t! Usually, that stuff is just piling up in messy storage rooms and garages but no one is actually using it. Living in a tiny space will give us the chance to downsize and to live with only the things we really need. I like this kind of minimalism because it’s serene. We will also spend more time outside enjoying nature. This might sound boring to some people but again this is just something we decided to do.

I’m looking forward to our new tiny and green lifestyle!