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Healthy Home Basics - Rewards of Downsizing

By HHI Staff

Americans have long held that big is better. For example, a 30" pizza with thirteen toppings will be preferable to a 12" one with three. A Queen-Mary sized sport-utility vehicle is worth owning, but not a compact two-seater. The particulars don't matter, let alone what you need - having the biggest, most enormous, colossal, gigantic, huge, massive, immense whatever it is, is what you want. So, a new 10,000 square foot home surely must be superior to one that's merely 2,000 square feet.


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This chateau-on-every-lot mentality certainly benefits the professionals who build, care for, and sell these very large homes. But are there benefits to the home's owners? Perhaps - if they have a very large family. But the truth is, there are many rewards if you choose to downsize.


Of course, the first benefit to come to mind is the extra money you'll have. Your construction, mortgage, utility, and maintenance payments will be smaller - often substantially so. As a result, you can more easily opt for healthier building and decorating materials, some of which have a higher initial cost than their conventional counterparts.

On an environmental level, less square footage will definitely mean the use of less lumber - hence fewer trees will need to be cut. There will also be less paint, less shingles, less furniture, less flooring, less ducting, less wiring, less plumbing, less of everything, to create a more modest structure, and to furnish it. This means utilizing fewer renewables, nonrenewables, cyclables, recyclables, nonbiodegradables, and compostables. A smaller home also means less energy needed for heating and cooling, and generally less water use. In addition, because a less massive home takes up fewer square feet of land, there's more room for birds, animals, and flora to inhabit.

Furthermore, a more modest home will require less time to maintain it. As a result, even if all family members are working, your home will still be manageable by just you, your spouse, and children. So, you probably won't need to hire a cleaning service. Of course, whoever ends up doing the actual labor, fewer gallons of cleaning products will be required.

One benefit most people almost never think about with smaller houses is the sense of family togetherness they can foster. When his children were young, former Beatle Paul McCartney - who could afford to live anywhere, in any house - chose to live in a small residence. When asked why in an interview, he explained that he valued the intimacy that resulted with his wife and children. Spacious houses can create a sense of isolation. With so much room (and rooms) in them, some families rarely see each other - even when they're all home at the same time.

The reality is, big isn't necessarily better. Less can be more. In the end, by opting not to build and live in a sumptuous suburban McMansion, you could choose to live a far more healthy and environmentally conscious lifestyle. Now that's a big deal.


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Healthy Home Basics - Rewards of Downsizing:  Created on March 23rd, 2008.  Last Modified on February 27th, 2011


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