Who Loves the Sun?

I once met a vegan who ate plants because they were closer
to the sun. His reasoning: if plants get power from the sun, animals eat
plants, and we eat animals or their byproducts, we get shortchanged in the sun
department. By simply eating plants, therefore, he  figured would close the gap and be fortified
with much more solar energy.

Luckily, the universe has finally come to its senses and
allowed cheese-lovers like myself an opportunity to harness the power of the
sun in a less calcium-deprived way: solar panels.

Soaking up the sun 

It’s hard to think of a better way to power a tiny house. After
all, you can get sunshine pretty much anywhere you bring your home. Install a
panel or two on the top of your house and boom! Good to go! Or, you can try my personal favorite and use a plug
and play system
. This way, you can place your panels wherever you’d like.

(See also: A Tumbleweed in the Sun)

Given the small scale of a Tumbleweed, a little
energy goes a long way. On a sunny day you’ve got yourself a pretty bright
little space already, and you’ll probably want to spend your hours basking
outside on whatever gorgeous piece of land you’re currently calling home. Then,
when the sun moves on to power another hemisphere, you tap into your stored
supply of solar juice, turn on a couple light bulbs, plug in your two or three
necessary electronics, and live it up.

That said: yes, the sun is great, and with some smart
investments, we should be able to do all we want electricity wise. But the
first way to save money and help our earth is to scale down our usage in general. Just because the sun shines fairly
reliably doesn’t mean we should go crazy with it- after all, our usage of
electricity goes beyond what’s powering our devices. We have to think about who is making
them and how, what they’re contributing to on a larger scale, and if we
actually need all of them on a regular basis.

Start by figuring out what uses the most power, then figure out if there’s another way you can swing it. For instance, an electric water heater will use a good amount of electricity. Instead, why not try a simple passive solar water heating system? 

You can read about how Laura decided which appliances made the most sense here

In a tiny house, you’ll probably find it easy to realize exactly how
little you need- the rest will seem like clutter in no time. So live simply
with solar power, and live simply with your solar-powered devices. But more
importantly, get out and run around in that sun!

Have a good story about your solar powered tiny house?
Submit it! 

  • jes

    Your vegan was explaining biomass productivity, an essential of ecological understanding. The vastest part of life on earth is plant and algae: these produce their own food from the sun’s energy through photosynthesis, and are called “producers” or “autotrophs.” These are consumed by “consumers” or “hetorotrophs,” organisms that eat other organisms. “Primary consumers” eat only producers; at maximum, about 10% of the original energy is transferred up to the next level. These are consumed by “secondary consumers,” an animal that eats another animal; “tertiary consumers” are third level. If an eagle eats a snake that ate a mouse that ate a grub that ate a plant, 0.01% of the original energy is transferred up to the eagle – so, there would have to be many fewer eagles than snake, etc down the food web. So when we eat a cow, we are consuming less efficiently than if, like the cow, we ate producers directly. Look up “trophic levels,” “trophic pyramid,” and “food web” in google images for good visuals on all this. Needless to say, if we did not eat meat, we’d be using land much, much more efficiently – as we wouldn’t need to feed the animals to in turn feed us, and would use the conversion of the sun’s energy to food energy ten times more efficiently.

  • Leah

    Calcium deprived? What an ignorant statement. A proper vegan diet is not deprived of calcium, protein, or any other important micro- or macro-nutrient.

  • Dude

    I think living in a tiny house is a noble thing. Making less of an impact on the environment is definitely a plus for everyone….. but I think you’ve overlooked one thing, especially after making a joke about veganism.

    Livestock uses 30% of the earth’s entire land surface, mostly permanent pasture. Forests are cleared to create new pastures and livestock is the main driver of deforestation. 70% of former forests in the Amazon have been turned over to grazing. The livestock industry also produces 65% of the world’s greenhouse gases, which are obviously destroying the atmosphere.

    If every American skipped one meal of meat a week, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.

    Talk about water…

    It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef, 219 gallons to produce one pound of butter and cheese….that’s like 7 MONTHS of showers! Farmed animals use more than HALF the water in the U.S.

    More than 70% of the grain we grow is fed to livestock. It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of meat. Think about all the energy, fuel and water that went into ONLY planting and harvesting those crops. Then think about the one-pound of beef that only supplies a third of the total calories an average adult needs per day. One pound of beef, or 16 pounds of grain that could feed 10 people… I’m choosing the grain.

    The livestock business is the most damaging sector to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing to water pollution from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and the pesticides used to spray feed crops.

    Its sick, it really is. Like I said, I agree tiny house living is the way to go. But if you want to really make a difference in the world stop consuming so many animal products. Better yet, go VEGAN!


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