College student lives in 96-square-foot solar-powered house rent-free to save thousands on tuition

Categories: Tiny House
  • Green Mountain College senior Rob Dunn has been living rent-free in a solar powered home for a year
  • He made the house to reduce his carbon footprint and save money to counter the high cost of college
  • The home cost just $3,000 to build and room and board at Dunn's college would have cost him $11,492, a hefty fee to add on to the $33,000 tuition

A college student in Vermont is living in a 96-square-foot house he built to reduce his carbon footprint — and save money.

The Rutland Herald reports that Green Mountain College senior Rob Dunn has been living in the two-story Poultney home since August 2014.

Total tuition including room and board at the liberal arts college costs $46,000 per year. Staying on campus would have cost him $11,492 so he decided to come up with a solution.

The home is powered by two 100-watt solar panels. A rocket mass heater built from a cast-iron stove insulated with a mixture of clay, sand and straw allows for cooking and heating.

Tiny home: Rob Dunn sits on on a couch in his two-story, 96-square-foot home in Poultney, Vermont.  Dunn, a Green Mountain College senior has lived off the grid for about a year in his tiny home powered by two 100-watt solar panels. He uses a rocket mass heater for cooking and heating

The home cost Dunn about $3,000 to build, and the landowner is letting him live rent-free. He says that will help with the high cost of college.

The Henniker, New Hampshire, native says living in the home is the 'most raw experience that I've ever had.' 


He's just one of dozens to hundreds of Americans reducing their costs by moving into small energy efficient homes as part of the growing Tiny House Movement.

In May, Jamie and Kelly Rye of Ohio announced moving out of their 3,400-square-foot home with their two children and into a 400-square-foot mobile one instead. They planned to move into the home this summer.

The concept of downsizing and living minimally in houses that typically range between 150 and 400 square feet started in recent times about 11 or 12 years ago and, as housing prices and debts — particularly student-loan debts — increased, so has the popularity of tiny houses, said Linda Beall, an associate lecturer in the construction and engineering technology program at the University of Toledo.

Save money and energy: Rob Dunn moved into the home last summer because he wanted to save money and avoid pricey room and board at his school and also reduce his carbon footprint 

There is no database that tracks tiny-house living, so it's nearly impossible to say how many there are and how many people live in small residences.

The living little phenomenon is 'sporadically popular' across the country, said Ms. Beall, who has attended tiny house workshops. 

Large homes come at a cost and most Americans spent between 1/3 and 1/2 of their income on keeping a roof over their heads, as a result 76 per cent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

To escape the cycle of debt that increasing comes with the large house and the white picket fence, some people are attracted by the simplicity of the Tiny House Movement. 

Raw living: Dunn says living in the home is the 'most raw experience that I've ever had.' It cost him $3,000 to build and helps him to cover the cost of college 


by Aleksandra Klausner / via DailyMail

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