Saturday, June 20, 2009

Small Living Makes Giant Strides

By Shireen Qudosi

Thinking green has spread a new leaf. While in the early stages of green living, eco-friendly decisions centered around what could be different in the home, the trend now is the change your home itself. The small living movement is taking the country by storm, and more and more people are realizing the benefits of compact living for a number of reasons in and in a number of ways.

Whether it’s a boat, mobile, or studio living, majority of Americans are downsizing their dwelling. This in light of the recent recession mixed with a rising awareness to cultivate positive eco-friendly living solutions, has left the market saturated with a number of alternatives to conventional living.

In browsing the net, stories popped up left and right about single Americans who are now looking to live cheaper and more simply. Initially doing it for environmental or fiscal reasons, all of them have attested to finding that a simpler home has somehow translated into a simpler lifestyle - and a simple lifestyle is a happy lifestyle.

There are a number of great sites that can get you started, including my top favorite, Apartment Therapy.

There are a couple of creeping problems with smaller living lifestyles. Whether it’s a room or a whole living space/studio, the obvious issue is space. The easiest way to tackle this problem is through bookshelves.

However, in a smaller space, it's crucial to make use of wall and above-cabinet space. Some clever homes even had bookshelves trailing down each side of the main steps leading from the entrance to the loft. Other clever ideas including using bedroom dividers and utilizing lighting to highlight different room areas.

Despite best intentions, and even some amazingly gosh darn cute homes, there are some problems that keep cropping up with smaller domiciles. As we saw with the articles on living spaces of 250 square feet and 350 square feet, it is possible to live functionally in such a small space. Compared to that 400 square feet seems rather large, but even a room or a studio type home of 400 square feet can have the same heat-rising microwave-effect that exists with even smaller spaces.

Unless your small space has great ventilation and accompanies a cool breeze, chances are you'll be stuck in what will inevitably feel like a pressure cooker. And if you're on the second floor, that dark little cloud is going to start inching closer and closer. With the well-known fact that heat rises, you'll have the added heat headed up your way.

If this miserable existence sounds like your situation, but perhaps not your cup of tea, then your best bet is to get a portable cooler. Portable air conditioners are mobile cooling devices that, unlike central air conditioners, offer spot cooling at a far more cost-friendly rate. For a 400 square foot room, you'd need a cooler with a BTU of 9000 - in which case the Soleus Portable AC should suit you just fine. However, in dryer climates you're better off with an evaporative swamp cooler, such as the Convair.

In addition to salvaging what’s left of your sanity come summer, you’ll have the added benefit of clean purified air, a simple, energy efficient, easy to operate cooling device, mobility and spot cooling, as well as adaptability.

Regardless of which unit you decide is right for you, they all tend to be of a compact design that can be discreetly tucked away when not in use. When they are in use, they'll seamlessly blend into your decor as the trend for most small living quarters tends to be lighter colors with classic lines.

Shireen Qudosi is a green expert working with Air Conditioner Home. A premier online retailer of residential/commercial cooling, Air Conditioner Home is dedicated to raising consumer awareness on green issues & promoting both air purification and eco-friendly cooling.

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