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Discussion of Design:.

This page will be a long winded discussion of all aspects of the design in great detail.

Earthships

Earthships started to be built in the 1970's.  The goal was to build a self contained living space using solar heating and recycled materials.  I am using three of their basic ideas in my design.  

1)  First berm into the earth.  Using the natural earth temperature of around 52 degrees Fahrenheit is a major assistance to both heating and cooling.  By berming earth up to the windows you can take advantage of this and still have a fairly normal house with typical windows.

2)  Second incorporate a greenhouse on the south facing wall to collect solar energy for heat and to grow vegetables and herbs.

3)  Third use a thermal mass to store heat  Wooden structures because they are relatively light in weight do not store heat.  It requires a heavier medium like stone or water or concrete or metal to collect and store heat during the day to keep the building warm at night.  A major breakthru in my design was when I realized that a 40 foot long container is a 6400# thermal mass.   The sun shining all day on an 8 ft high by 40 ft long steel wall will heat it up considerably.  

Tiny Homes

The tiny home movement is a revolution in thinking as much as a revolution in design.  Tiny homes themselves are not super efficient because they are usually on wheels with limited width and limited insulation.   Also they are off the ground so even with skirting the floor is subject to cold temperatures.  But the idea of living in a small space is an idea whose time has come.  We must limit the waste of energy and materials used to live in a 2,000 + sq. ft. home.  

One possibility is to build a well insulated 'tiny home' within your existing mega house.  You can efficiently live in this small space and have the larger space available when necessary.  

The 'tiny farm' is a compact design, bermed into the earth with passive solar heating.  Kind of like taking your 'tiny home' off of the trailer and adding a bunch more insulation.  

Insulation

Insulate!!  Insulate!!   Insulate!!   An efficient house is not rocket science.   It is just the use of a massive amount of insulation.  You can not think of insulation in the framework of a cost benefit analysis.  Any house built before the 60's or 70's is an ecological disaster.  We are born into a world where burning gas or oil to heat our homes is a given.  We automatically budget $XXX.XX for a monthly heating or cooling bill.  This is totally wrong.  Every gallon of oil or gas or electricity used to heat or cool a home is gone thru the walls, doors and windows in a few hours.  This is INSANE.  There should be a massive government program to reinsulate all of our older buildings.  This would create a gazillion jobs.  

The average house in the northeast probably uses around 10 gallons of oil to heat the house for 2 days in the winter.   A 1980 Volkswagen diesel Rabbit gets 50 miles to the gallon.  Would you rather heat your house for 2 days or walk 500 miles?   The Creator gave us this highly concentrated source of energy and we are just totally wasting it to heat buildings.  

When the oil supplies start to run out, the oil companies are going to raise the prices of oil to outrageous levels.  Right now the oil companies, like any good drug dealer, are getting us addicted to cheap oil.  We got to break this addiction while we can.  

Tear out the walls of your house and put in an outrageous amount of insulation.  Or sell the monster and build a tiny farm.  

I have just come up with a new design that does use a shipping container.

Container Pros:    Strong, weather tight, instant shelter, great storage space

Container Cons:   Steel transfers heat quickly, metal is a pain in the ass to incorporate into standard wood construcion,

So I have a sketch of a design that uses the pros of a container and few of the cons.   

The idea is to put the container in the center of the building so the strength of the container is used to support the building and make the construction process easier.  This gives a large secure storage area in the center of the building.  The north side has the living area and the south side has the greenhouse.  Heat from the greenhouse is moved by fans thru the floor of the living area to give radiant floor heating.  The container is not insulated, except on the wall with the house.