In recent decades, EnviroCitizen.org has noticed that Americans have built bigger homes than ever before. In 1973, the average home was 1,660 square feet. In 2005, the average home was about 2,434 square feet. That's an increase of almost 70% in a little more than thirty years. In the past few decades, homes have received additional features and luxuries, too. Many modern homes have multiple bathrooms, bigger kitchens, entertainment rooms and garages. In 1971, far less than half of all homes had garages that could hold more than two cars. Now, the vast majority of homes, about 84%, have large, multi-car garages.
This increase of size and features in modern homes comes with a price. Of course the dollar price of these homes is bigger than before, but the environmental cost is bigger, too. More space translates into a larger area that needs to be heated, cooled, lit and filled with stuff. A smaller home requires far less energy to maintain, and it holds a lot less. For example, many modern homes now have a living room, which usually holds a sofa, some chairs and a coffee table. Many also include an entertainment room, which holds another sofa, more chairs, another coffee table and a television. The problem is, buying more stuff to fill these rooms results in a larger carbon footprint! For example, if you need to buy two sofas instead of one, that second purchase doubles your carbon footprint as far as your furniture goes. Everything that is made requires energy during the production process. So, the bigger your house the more of an environmental impact you'll have. Bigger homes also require more heat in the winter and cooling in the summer. Therefore, the larger the home, the bigger the energy demand, too.
The solution to this growing problem is to go with a smaller home; it's the eco-friendly thing to do. It's hard to deny that many of these "extra" rooms aren't necessary. Most Americans use their formal living room (the one without the television) less than ten days per year, yet it's filled with furniture. You can cut down on bathrooms, too. Instead of having three bathrooms, go with 1 or 2. Granted, the logistics of cutting down the number of bathrooms in your home may or may not be feasible depending on how many family members you have in your home or how much privacy you need. However, the important thing to recognize here is that when you choose to live in a bigger home, you are increasing both your carbon footprint and your environmental impact.
EnviroCitizen.org challenges you to ask yourself what you really need. By choosing a smaller home, you'll spend less money heating and cooling it, as well as filling it. You'll also reduce your impact on the environment, your carbon footprint and your bills!