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The Big Dig
Putting the lid on
What is an earthship?
The idea of earthships comes from Michael Reynolds an American architect who has been developing these environmentally friendly dwellings for about 30 years. Check out his videos below.
Basically, it's a sustainable dwelling constructed from local and waste materials, such as old tyres and drink cans. It uses the theory of a cave house and the modern technology of greenhouses. We like to describe it as a cave house with a conservatory on the front - which is why we named ours Cuevas de Sol - Caves of Sun.
The tyre walls form the mass of the building which helps achieve a constant temperature, approx 16C, throughout the year. They hold the heat in winter and help cool the building in summer. Much as a cave house does.
The front of the building, which would face south in the Northern hemisphere, is glass fronted. This forms a greenhouse area where food can be grown and allows for solar heat and light gain. This solar gain can increase temperatures in the winter to a comfortable 20C without the need for fossil fuel heating. A welcome difference to a cave house.
The area in which we've chosen to build is renowned for it's cave houses. Let's hope this one will demonstrate how tradition and modern knowledge/technology can work together.
Water from the sky is collected on the roof (or as run off from the land) and stored in tanks. The water is used four times: Firstly for washing and cooking, Secondly the now grey water is used to irrigate the in-house planters which somewhat filter and clean the water, thirdly the filtered water is used to flush the loo, finally the now black water is processed through a septic tank and used to irrigate outside areas.
Water is heated by vacuum tube solar panels, stored in an internal tank or heat store. The taps, shower etc are located close to the tank avoiding the waste of too much cold water.
Electricity is generated by Wind turbines and Solar photovoltaic panels, the energy is stored in deep cycle lead acid batteries. Power is delivered via a DC to AC inverter providing the standard 220-240 volts.