Sunday, September 21, 2014

Raising the Panels

The Autumnal Equinox occurs this week which means the sun has hit the point where it is low enough in the sky that the angle of the solar panels needs to be changed to harvest the most energy from the sun.

Yesterday was a gorgeous day with the sun shining and the wildflowers blooming so Rick and our grandson Jack went up on the roof of the earthship to move the panels to their winter angle.

Meanwhile, SophieTom took a dip in one of the rock depressions on the edge of the canyon.


From the front of the house you really can't see the photovoltaic panels because the ground slopes down quite a bit before hitting the canyon edge. If you peer carefully between the two cedars you can see a little bit of the raised panels. The panels visible to the left of the trees are the hot water panels that keep the earthship toasty all winter with in-floor radiant heat. Those panels are not lowered during the summer because we don't heat the floor then.


I love our home!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Status Update

Just realized I haven't posted in a very long time. Money got pretty tight with Rick and me both having jobs that evaporated. Last September I started working out of town and earlier this year we rented the earthship out to a good friend who is planning on building one and we moved into an apartment in an old log cabin.

We will be back. Meanwhile we remain dedicated to the tread lightly on the earth ethos of earthship life and are looking to build a tiny earthship near where I'm working which is about 80 miles away from our canyon, using all the things we learned from our life on the edge.

I will continue posting photos from the dozen years of building and living in our earthship.

One of the cool things Rick did last fall was to build his Happy Tractor Shed. He made it out of pallets and the cut off bark pieces from a saw mill. Good recycling effort.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Earthship Status

It has been an unusually mild dry summer and I got spoiled by the absence of biting bugs. The earthship continues to be very comfortable with night time temps around 70 and day time temps in the mid to high 70s. This last week has been extremely cloudy and we've gotten lots of rain. A neighbor measured .94 of an inch last week and yesterday's rainfall at a full inch falling in 30 minutes. After so many days of clouds with the sun not coming out of the clouds until 5 pm or so, we ended up running out of stored solar energy since the batteries weren't being charged all day, every day. It meant the generator came on this morning. Thankfully it has been a sunny day today so I don't expect the generator to go on again in the near future. Unfortunately this rain has hatched horrible biting flies.

Thursday, June 06, 2013


The Heralds' Earthship Adventure

Living the Sustainable Life
We've built our dream home, an Earthship using plans purchased from architect Michael Reynolds, on the edge of a gorgeous Rocky Mountain canyon. Our sustainable home is off-grid, heated by the sun in winter and cooled by natural convection and sheltering from the sun in summer. Our electricity comes from the sun via solar panels and an inverter. We do have modern conveniences such as computers, internet, and a dishwasher. We even have a flush toilet in addition to a composting toilet so this is not roughing it at all. Our experiences with solar electricity were featured on Colorado Matters - to find it put 8-13-07 Off-the-Grid with Solar in the search box.
From the far side of the canyon.





Floors are acid stained concrete. Like most of the house, we did it ourselves.



A little paint and some light fixtures make a world of difference.
Many of the interior walls are made from cans or bottles set in a concrete or papercrete matrix.
  
Earthship Links
Our house was part of the cover story in the May 2007 Beacon. It looks like the story disappeared when the June issue came out so I scanned it in. You can see it here. The article does have one glaring error, though. where it says "the home's internal temperature ranges from 58 in the winter to 78 in the summer" those are really the lows and highs. Our former conventional house used to drop down to 55 at night because that is where we set the thermostat. This house occassionally drops down to 58 in pre-dawn winter mornings at 7000 ft. altitude. As soon as the sun rises so does the temperature. I usually have to open the skylight and windows by 9am to keep it from getting too hot on those sunny winter days. So the article makes it sound chilly in here in the winter but it is exactly the opposite. Friends in town have been running their furnaces for a month now while we have only had one evening in the last month when we lit up the wood burning stove. In the last month it has usually been right around 70 degrees in the house when we retire for the night around 10pm.
Earthship Biotecture - this is our architect and the inventor of Earthships
High Noon Solar - this is our favorite supplier for solar and sustainable living stuff.
Living Earth Construction - this is the guy who pounded our tires and helped us build our dream.

Rural living does have its drawbacks. Here is a letter I now send off with anything like rebates or catalog orders that state P.O. Box addresses are not accepted. You may be able to tell I'm a little bit ticked off by this discrimination against rural residents.
 send email to me at: dherald at mac dot com

 







Sunday, April 28, 2013

Community

A few weeks ago a student came up to the reference desk and asked for help finding primary sources and scholarly articles about earthships. I was thrilled and told her Rick and I would be glad to be interviewed for her paper and invited her to come up for a tour. It was so nice this afternoon to visit with her and her family about our experiences in building and living in our home. Hopefully, if they do eventually build an earthship they can use some of the hard earned knowledge we acquired on this journey. They were able to share with us the three day Earthship Biotecture workshop they recently attended.

Earthship dwellers tend to not be overly social. We like being self sufficient. When we were embarking on our journey to build our earthship we really wanted to talk to people who lived in earthships and those who had built them. There were some wonderful people we met by going up and knocking on their doors who shared their wealth of information with us. We met another earthship family from standing in a supermarket line and the person behind us said she had friends who were building one, too.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Interior Photos Posted

Earth Day is almost over for the year but wouldn't the earth be a lot healthier if we all tried to make it Earth Day every day. In honor of the day, I finally uploaded some photos of the earthship's interior. Living in a sustainable house is a comfortable pleasure.

Earth Day

Earth Day makes me reflect on how happy I am with our earthship home. In previous years we've opened our house to tours but this year it didn't happen. So, if you were hoping for a tour, just email me at dherald at mac dot com. We are also happy to talk to folks who want to unplug from the grid or just live a more sustainable life.

Living off the grid is not as hard as some would imagine. Water is provided via snow, rain, frost and dew and stored in our cisterns. We have ample electricity for our needs--lights, water pressure tank, fridge, freezer, computers, printers, DVD player, stereo, etc. The house maintains a pleasant temperature, warm in winter and cool in summer.

I really appreciate the lack of city noises, the presence of bird song, the fresh scent of sage brush, and the constantly changing play of light and shadow on the far side of the canyon.

Our gate in winter.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Water Catching

All of our water is captured on our roof and stored in two 2500 gallon concrete cisterns. It works amazingly well and even in the midst of a drought we didn't run short. We do a lot of things around the house to conserve water. When we go below 70% in the cisterns we start using the composting toilet more but we do also have a traditional flush toilet.

I saw this short video (not thrilled with the pop ups that show up) but it was a beautifully produced segment on water in Tucson. Some really smart ideas.

I did a short vlog myself several years ago on how we deal with water for our earthship.