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Friday, July 29, 2011

"Tiny House": Tiny self-sustaining house has everything you need

How much space do you really need to live? No more than 128 square feet – about the same footprint as the trailers lawn care companies use to haul their gear, according to a team of college students and recent alumni keyed into the sustainability movement.

The team is putting the finishing touches on their tiny house which, in fact, was built on a trailer and is completely self-sustainable. It generates all the water and electricity its dweller needs, a first, they say, for this class of miniature housing.

"You can go anywhere you want and do anything," Kaycee Overcash, a recent graduate from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who is the co-project manager for the Tiny House project, explained to me.

A 1,120-watt array of solar panels mounted on the roof coupled with a battery bank generates enough electricity to power a small refrigerator, lights and a laptop, the team says. A rainwater collection system fills up a pillow stored beneath the home, providing 8.4 gallons of water per day, year round.

That water and electricity, though, aren't used to flush the toilet. The house has a composting toilet outfitted with peat moss and a ventilation system that is slotted into the shower, which is actually where the entire bathroom is contained.

"It is a little bigger than a normal toilet because of the area it needs to decompose, but you sit on it like any other toilet," Overcash said. "You take a tray out once a week and it is dirt. You put it in your garden." (more)