Air conditioning was once seen as a luxury that wasn’t necessary for every home. Not only was air conditioning once seen as expensive, but it also used a great deal of power. The last thing owners of tiny houses want to do is use more power.
However, air conditioning has come along way from bulky window units that buzz louder than a beehive.
Many people who live in tiny homes have found efficient ways to cool their home.
More importantly, they are cooling their home without compromise. When it comes to your tiny house and air conditioning, what is the best way to utilize it for you? Here are 7 things you should know about air conditioning for a tiny house.
1) Air Conditioner Style For Tiny Homes
The first thing to consider when shopping for the best air conditioner for your tiny home is the style.
The style you choose may impact your tiny house from the beginning. Meaning that if you want a central air system, that may have to be done during construction.
The style of air conditioning unit is much more than how it will look in your home. It has much more to do with what is feasible in your tiny house. Most importantly, when it comes to the power you use. Here are the different styles of air conditioners that can work perfectly in any tiny house.
A stand-alone air conditioning unit is a perfect cooling option for smaller spaces. This is because these type of units can be moved and stored when not in use. This means that you don’t have to deal with a large bulky system year round.
Stand-alone air conditioners are also fool-proof when it comes to how they work. The only thing that can be problematic for some people is that these units need their own window access. This is because of the tubing that needs to have an exit to the home. Since tiny houses are low of traditional windows and doors, finding the right spot may be a challenge.
Central air systems are fully packaged deals and are often preferred for tiny houses. This is because there are no internal bulky units that need to be placed in the home. This system comes with one large air conditioning unit that will be set outside the home.
Along with the unit itself, there are perfect places floor vents that will fill the space with cool air.
The best part about these systems is that they work with the home’s heating system.
This means you will only need one thermostat to control both your heat and air. Another perk about using a central air system is that you have control over the overall temperature of your home.
Stand-alone systems can be guessing game but when you control the air from your thermostat, you know exactly how cool your home will be.
Window cooling units are a great inexpensive option for most homeowners. However, window systems need to be placed properly in the frame of a window.
This can be challenging for tiny houses because windows are not built to be traditional.
However, some homeowners have found a way around this. Smaller window units can fit perfectly in smaller vented windows in tiny houses. This way you can still cool down your house without blowing your budget. The most important thing to remember about this type of cooling system is that they need to be vented outside properly.
2) Size Matters
Finding appliances that will not only fit into your tiny house but into your lifestyle can be challenging.
Luckily for you, appliances are getting smaller and sleeker all the time.
This is especially true when it comes to air conditioning units. Finding ones that can perfectly cool your home without taking up and additional space is a must.
To find the size that is best for your tiny house, you need to first know what style you want. The best way to do this is to see it before you buy it. Measure all of your windows are well as space in your home that could fit a stand-alone unit.
Once you know what your space can handle, you can better choose the right style of the unit for you.
3) Average Utility Fees
One major thing to note about using air conditioning in a tiny house is that it will come at a cost. This cost will reflect on either your power bill or in the amount of propane you purchase.
Utility costs always elevate during high and low-temperature months. This is because you are using more heat during the winter and more air during the summer.
Most people prepare for the dreaded winter utility bill but often forget about summer. According to a study done by The Nest, on average people pay $4 day to cool their homes.
But, this study is done with traditional homes which on average are 15,000 square feet. With tiny houses have a much smaller average up to a 10th of what traditional houses offer.
This means that you can come to expect your average cost per day of running your cooling system at $2 a day. If you live in a standard weather area you may be running your cooling system three months a year. Your total average cost of a cooling system will cost around $90 a year.
4) Cost Of Unit
One other major cost to consider is the price tag of the unit itself. This is an opportunity to look at your lifestyle as a whole. This includes how often you predict that you will be needing to use your cooling system.
Part-time tiny house occupants won’t need to rely on their cooling system.
However, full-time homeowners can find that they need much more than a tiny cooling system for their home.
To first figure out which system you need, you should know how much the different systems cost. Here is the average cost of air conditioning units according to their style:
As we previous stated, standing units are great for quick comfort without any commitment. However, these will run you a pretty penny. Most portable systems will cost on average $200.
However, there are smaller, more economical options out there. The most important thing to look for in these units is a warranty and a high eco-friendly rating.
If you find that you have a proper set up to use a window unit, you will love the cost of these conventional systems. The best part about window units when it comes to cost is that you have options. Most people who live in tiny houses find that they need less than 7000 BTU in order to fill up a smaller space. These smaller units run on average $300-$400. While this is more expensive than portable units, you can leave the unit in year round so you don’t have to worry about pulling it out when the weather kicks off.
Central Cooling Systems:
Depending on how your house is set up, central cooling systems will be the most expensive way to go. This is because you will need to have an outside unit professional installed. From there, your entire home will need to be fitted with floor vents and temperature controlled thermostats.
If you’re starting from scratch, a central system can cost you upwards of $3 thousand dollars.
5) Keeping Costs Low
One of the perks of living in a tiny house is that you don’t have as much overhead when it comes to costs.
Finding creative solutions to save money is what living in tiny houses is about.
So, while air conditioning may be a high cost for some, there are ways to get the best of both worlds.
One way to keep the costs down is to only run your cooling unit when it is truly needed. Here are some alternative ways to cool your tiny house without switching on your air conditioner:
Open The Windows:
A nice breeze can not only cool down a smaller home but also offer a great ambiance. Slightly cracking windows on warmer days can allow the cool breeze to flow through the home. However, it is important that you only do this when your air conditioner is not on.
Having open windows while simultaneously running a cooling system can be counterintuitive. This is one way to watch your money literally fly out the windows. Open windows will allow cold air to escape while letting warm air in. So, crack your windows only when your house needs a slight cooling.
Make A Schedule:
Everyone loves coming home to a comfortable home. However, running your air conditioning unit when no one is home is a huge cost waste. If you have decides to go with a central cooling system, consider switching to a smart tech thermostat. This way you can have complete control over your cooling schedule.
Most smart tech devices can be paired with your phone. This means that not only can you control your comfort with a touch, but you can also even set a schedule. Set your thermostat to only run on the fan while you are away. More than that, you can program your thermostat right from your phone to start cooling down your home before you even open the door. This way you can be sure that you are always walking into a perfectly comfortable home. Best of all, you will be saving money in the long run.
Blocking The Air
Simple changes to your tiny house can help you to keep the cool air in and the warm air out.
The biggest source of heat for your home, and the planet, it the sun. An air conditioning system can only do so much when competing with the hot sun. One way you give your cooling system a boost is to invest in air and light blocking shades.
These heavy shades, or curtains, keep the sun’s heat out. But, they do so much more!
They also do a great job of keeping the cold in. Think of these shades as a simple barrier between the sun and your home.
Little changes like this are inexpensive but so cost-effective when it comes to your cooling bill.
6) Carbon Footprint
One of the biggest concerns that homeowners have when it comes to air conditioning is how it will affect their carbon footprint.
Living a life of awareness when it comes to environmental concerns is important to most people.
Especially for those who live in tiny houses. So one thing to consider when it comes to cooling your tiny house is what impact it will have.
However, with today’s technology and the understanding of how it affects the environment, you have plenty of options. The first thing you should do is check to make sure the appliance is backed with eco-friendly technology. One way to ensure that you have found the best one is to look for the Energy Star certification.
The Energy Star Program is backed by the EPA to guarantee that the particular appliance is made with the environment in mind. But, it’s much more than that! Many Energy Star appliances also allow for special rebates and tax breaks.
Taking advantage of these programs will not only reduce your overall carbon footprint but also help to keep costs low.
7) Best Air Conditioning Systems for Tiny Houses
The last thing to consider when it comes to figuring out how to cool your home is what system is preferred.
When you consider that living in a tiny house is such a special experience, the system should be special as well. Luckily for you, many tiny homeowners have already done the legwork for you.
The people have spoken and here are the most popular air conditioning systems among owners of tiny homes:
Frigidaire Mini-Compact Air Conditioner
This window style air conditioner is perfect for tiny houses because of its compact size. This air conditioner is great for tiny houses because it only uses 5000 BTU. However, the size is what makes it most appealing. At only 23″x13″, this system is sure to fit in any compactly sized window.
Most importantly, this air conditioner is backing with Energy Star technology and rating. Coming in at less than $200, it isn’t too hard on the wallet either.
Ivation Portable Air Conditioner
Portable air conditioners are such a great option for tiny houses. But, how do you choose? The people have spoken and the Ivation Portable Air Conditioner is the top of luxury. However, one thing to note is that this air conditioner runs on 10,000 BTU which is higher than you made need. But, with a larger air conditioner, you can fill up your space quicker which means you will run it less.
This air conditioner is so highly recommended because of its high tech features.
Also, this unit doubles as a dehumidifier. It is so important to find dual functioning appliances since space is tight. So, having multiple uses for your air conditioning unit is a major plus.
If a high-performance air conditioner is what you are looking for, check out this one here on Amazon!
We also have a recommendation for two dedicated dehumidifiers here.
Ontel Artic Personal Cooler
If you are still not ready for a large commitment when it comes to cooling your tiny house, consider a personal unit. The Ontel Artic Personal Cooler is a great traveling air conditioner that can quickly fill up small spaces. Much like a small space heater, this cooler can fit almost anywhere in your tiny house.
Best of all, the cost comes in at just under $50 which is sure to not dent your wallet.
Even though this cooler is small in size, it’s large in functions. Not only will it cool your home, but it also works as a dehumidifier as well as an air purifier.
This was you can be sure that the cool air you breathe is clean and healthy for the whole family. See what others have to say about this personal cooler on their Amazon page.
Living In Tiny House Comfortably
There are a few comforts that you shouldn’t have to live without.
Living in a tiny house is already a sacrifice for some, so why also sacrifice your comfort? There are plenty of ways to cool your home while not compromising your mission.
As long as you stay true to your space and your economical boundaries, you can live in total comfort as well. Good luck.
There are a few comforts in this world that are hard to live without. Among the list of things that are made to make our lives more comfortable is air conditioning.
Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.