As many of you know, plastics play a major role in every household and provide benefits that can help us save money, reduce waste and conserve energy. They’ve played a key role in helping to make some of the world’s first “zero energy” homes, in which the homes’ own energy supply is equal to the homes’ energy use.
But perhaps one of the most remarkable trends helping eco-conscious homeowners drive down energy costs is sizing down – way down – to earn the moniker-turned-meme: “Tiny House.”
Just in time for the Holiday countdown, here are 12 magical ways plastics helped make one very special tiny house more energy efficient:
SOLAR SHINGLES – These tough, innovative plastic solar shingles play two roles: roof protector and renewable energy generator.
POLYCARBONATE SKYLIGHT – This tough plastic skylight provides natural daylight, thermal resistance, and UV protection to help save energy.
VINYL SIDING AND TRIM – This plastic siding and trim can provide an additional barrier between indoors and out, plus they are low-maintenance, resilient, and do not need periodic painting.
VINYL WINDOWS – Plastics such as vinyl have a high resistance to heat and cold, which is one reason these plastic window frames are excellent insulators.
POLYURETHANE/FIBERGLASS FRONT DOOR – This traditional looking door is made with tough polyurethane-based fiberglass and an insulating plastic foam core to provide resistance to heat/cold.
RECYCLED PLASTIC DECKING – Plastic composite decking is low maintenance, easy to clean, long lasting, and resistant to infestation and decay—and no wood splinters! Some plastic decking contains recycled plastics to prevent valuable materials from going to waste.
CROSS-LINKED POLYETHYLENE (PEX) PIPES – Tough but flexible PEX piping retains more heat in hot water lines than traditional piping, which can reduce energy needs.
LUXURY VINYL FLOORING – This luxury vinyl flooring adds a waterproof barrier layer between indoors and out.
POLYSTYRENE FOAM INSULATION – This durable plastic foam provides an insulating barrier beneath the flooring of the tiny house, which is particularly useful since the house is mounted to a platform on an outdoor trailer.
PLASTIC SEALANTS & CAULKING – Strong yet flexible, water-resistant plastic (such as silicone) caulking and sealants help fill gaps around pipes, air ducts, plug outlets, and other places where outside air can enter a house.
SPRAY POLYURETHANE FOAM INSULATION – This plastic foam insulation expands to fill spaces in walls and attics, sealing tough-to-reach corners and cracks to help dramatically improve energy efficiency.
POLYISOCYANURATE FOAM BOARD – This stiff plastic foam board was applied to the outside of the tiny house walls (under the siding) to help prevent untreated air from even touching the wall materials/framing.
To demonstrate the wide range of innovative plastic building materials that contribute to energy efficiency, Plastics Make it Possible built a tiny house in Boulder, CO. From insulation and sealants to siding to windows, plastics help reduce the amount of unwanted airflow between the inside and outside of a house so we can use less energy for heating and cooling. And even though this house is only 170 square feet, plastics can dramatically improve energy efficiency in any size home!