Ditch The Truck for A Smart Bike

You have to have this big honkin' pickup truck to tow your family-size tiny house. You can't tow a car at the same time, so your regular transportation is a gas-guzzling beast that makes your soul ache a little every time you park alongside your potted organic tomato plants. Janice has a product that might balance the sustainability of your transportation choices; a cool ride called the Yerka Bike that is safe to lock up anywhere! ~ Isa

By Janice H.

One of the most environmentally friendly forms of transportation, the bicycle, is the obvious healthy alternative to getting where you need to go. It offers us our potential daily dose of exercise, as well as time spent outdoors ('got to soak up that Vitamin D!). However, one of the most frustrating pieces about being a cyclist is the knowledge that eventually you’re going to have to get off that bike and risk its theft. Even if the bike is secured with a bike lock, there are tools to get around those measures – such as bolt cutters, saws, and what-not.

According to the latest Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) records in 2012, there were 194,549 bikes reported stolen (up 3% from 2011). In reality, this number may be much higher due to reluctance to involve the authorities. Stolen bikes are hard to recover, even if the bike is registered, and on top of that, a good bike is expensive. Just scrolling through Dike’s Sporting Goods, I’m seeing prices like $469.98, and even $699.99. Some are less expensive than that, but serious bikers tend to invest in the best of the best, for reliability, for the experience.

A start-up in Chile has responded to this frustration. After having his bike stolen twice, engineering student, Adrés Roi decided that he wanted to create a bike that couldn’t be stolen. Together with several friends, he designed the Yerka Bike. The frame dismantles and becomes its own lock that can comfortably fit around most any bike rack, telephone pole, and small trees. Once locked, the only way to unlock it is with the “key” the owner keeps on them. In order to steal the bike, the thief would need to stick around for more than a brief moment, and would need to saw through the frame, which in turn renders the bike useless.

The security focused design plus the choice of several attention grabbing colors, like teal and neon pink (this bike is also more easily seen by oncoming traffic) make this entrepreneurial effort a winner I think.

For those interested, the bike is available on Indiegogo for $499 (though, as of the time I am writing this article, it is sold out). For more information on the bike, and to contact the creators directly, visit their website at yerkabikes.com. Or see video teaser

Solar Panels and the Tiny House Community

by Janice Harvey

Solar power provides a huge opportunity for the tiny house community. First off, tiny homes use less electricity due to their size. Second, mobile tiny homes can be angled to get the maximum light exposure. Lastly, many tiny home owners rent their land, and many need to be connected to land owner’s home in order to get electricity. This is a hassle, and can be expensive. Being able to run off their own energy would be far more convenient, and it would also be less expensive (in the longer term).

https://www.pinterest.com/DextrousCreate/sustainble-heating-and-cooling/How do solar panels even work? Well one panel is made up of many solar modules, which in turn are made of photovoltaic cells. These cells convert the sun’s light into energy. The electricity produced by these cells is direct current (DC) energy, so when the energy leaves the panel it is fed through an inverter that changes the DC current into AC (what is commonly used by every-day household appliances and electronics). The energy is then sent to the home for use. Any electricity left over can be stored in home batteries (like the one currently being produced by Tesla), or can be sent to the local grid to help power the local community (Solar Mosaic, Inc.).

Why should a tiny home consider solar power? Well, combined with other green alternatives (building the tiny home with green/recycled materials, composting toilet, personal garden, using a bike instead of a car when able…), the tiny home resident can actual reduce their environmental footprint so significantly, that it becomes negative. For those who are environmentally conscious, having a negative footprint is the ultimate goal.

Solar power is renewable and solar power is infinite (we don’t have to worry about running out of solar energy like we have to worry about running out of oil). Solar panels can be discreet (while less efficient, there are solar panels that have been designed to look like roof shingles), and they are noiseless (unlike wind energy). There is very little maintenance required to keep solar panels (there are no moving parts that need to be oiled or replaced), the most an owner needs to worry about is an annual cleaning to prevent build up on the solar panels that make them less efficient. Lastly, with all the attention it has been getting in recent years, solar panels are constantly improving, the technology is kept fresh, and deficiencies are found in record time (AlternatePower.org).

Another good reason to consider going solar is that the federal government is offering a 30% tax credit for home owners investing in solar energy. Unfortunately, that tax credit goes away next year. However, many states offer local incentives to convert to sustainable energies. Seeing as the tiny home already has lower taxes, this can make a huge impact on those who want to invest in green energy but have a tighter wallet. Between that and the different options offered (some companies even rent out solar panels), solar power has never been more affordable (Energy.gov).

Solar power isn’t for everyone, however, it is a reliable choice, and it is a wonderful alternative to harmful energy alternatives such as gas and oil. With the growing environmental movements, now is the time to get ahead of the curve and to encourage change in local communities, and what better way to do so than to show others how easy and rewarding it is to live sustainably?


"Solar Power-Advantages and Disadvantages." AlternatePower.org. Alternate Power, n.d. Web. 28 July 2015. <http://www.alternate-power.org/solar-power-advantages-and-disadvantages/>.

"How Do Solar Panels Work?" How Do Solar Panels Work? Solar Mosaic, n.d. Web. 28 July 2015. <https://joinmosaic.com/how-do-solar-panels-work>.

"Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit." Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit. U.S. Department of Energy, n.d. Web. 28 July 2015. <http://energy.gov/savings/residential-renewable-energy-tax-credit>.


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