Graduation Date

Spring 2019

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Environmental Systems, option Energy, Technology, and Policy

Committee Chair Name

Arne Jacobson

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Peter Alstone

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Charles Chamberlin

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories

Environmental Systems


This thesis conducts a techno-economic feasibility analysis of tiny homes. Scenarios generated using a mathematical and physical model of energy use of zero-net energy tiny homes in coastal Humboldt County are compared with conventional energy systems powered by fossil-fuels for lifecycle economic cost, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy use. A residence of 2,425 ft.2 (near the regional average) is simulated to offer a broader standard of comparison. A tiny home village model with outlying bedrooms and a central building for cooking, laundry and shower facilities is compared to a standalone tiny home model. A community services building is modeled to estimate energy use and annualized energy costs for the tiny home village.

Under the assumptions of the analysis, zero-net energy (ZNE) tiny homes are found to be recommendable on economic grounds over fossil-fuel models. Building energy optimization is found to reduce the lifecycle cost of modeled tiny homes while lowering energy use. In many cases considered, annualized energy use is lowered in excess of 30%, and lifecycle cost is reduced from 8-14%. Modeled zero net energy tiny homes use approximately 85% less energy than a modeled home closer to the regional average square footage, and energy use per occupant of modeled zero net energy tiny homes is 50% lower than the per capita energy use for California reported by the Energy Information Administration. Under the assumptions of the analysis, fully functional, zero-net energy tiny homes are economically favorable to a tiny house village with a central community building unless the cost of tiny homes is kept very low.

Citation Style