An earthship is a house that is buried on at least three sides and sometimes the roof is also covered. The south side is left exposed and is mostly glass to take advantage of the heating power of the sun. The sun heats the floor of the house which is usually a thick mass of concrete with some type of stone tile laid over top. The heat sinks right down into the ground underneath the house and radiates the warmth back up through the floor. Since the ground is at a constant temperature, about 56 degrees F, the house, no matter what the temperature outside, will never get any colder than 56 degrees. The mass of the floor and the soil under it will radiate the heat for days! Also, in the summer, the house is kept cool through the same method. The glass in the front of the house is angled so as to allow for the sun to reach all the way into the back of the house in the winter when the sun is low, but to only come in a few inches in the summer when it is higher in the sky. Pretty smart!
We purchased a 98 acre farm near Lake Erie where the Lake Erie Shores Wind farm is being built. We have been looking for a perfect spot for a couple of years now to build an earth ship, and this farm is perfect! The big turbines are right next door to our farm so we know that it will be a perfect spot for us to put our turbines.
We went to visit Tom Wolf this summer to see his almost completed earth ship and to pick his brain for ideas for our own!
Well, it’s been over a year now since we moved in to our earthship, and we are loving it here! The performance of the house continues to improve every day as we continue to work on it to seal things up and add insulation and thermal mass. We finished putting in our grey water planter in November and we have noticed a significant difference in how warm the house stays over night. The earth in the planter helps to hold the temperature and keep it more constant. Craig shovelled over 15 square yards of stone, sand and soil into the planter and we added a layer of potato stone (potato sized field stone) on the top surface to add even more thermal mass, as well as to keep the cats from using our planter as a big litter box ! We have several plants, including two banana trees, several herbs and many flowering plants and my favourite, a gardinia, thriving in the new planter. They love the light and the temperature! The cats think it’s a jungle!We have been working on plastering the walls and hope to have them finished by spring. Contrary to what most people have told us, you can mix up the sand plaster in the winter if you bring the sand into the house in containers and let it warm up first. It seems to be drying almost as fast as it was during the summer and not adding any extra moisture to the house because the water we are using, was in the house to begin with!
Tours of our Earthship
In the first four years that we have been living in our “Earthship”, we have welcomed well over 1,500 visitors to tour our home. We have met an amazing array of people from all over Canada, the U.S. and beyond! All of the people we have met have been extremely interested in our way of living and share a common goal of living lightly on the planet as well as living a more natural lifestyle. We would like to thank everyone who has visited our home over the years for their shared interest and for all of the donations that we have received and forwarded on to Michael Reynolds.We have decided to stop having the tours at this point so that we can focus on finishing our home as well as the many other projects that we have on the go. We may decide to do a tour at some point in the future and we will post the information as soon as we have a date set. We are still more than willing to help anyone who is in the process of planning an “Earthship” and would like some help. Our phone number here is 519-586-7122 and you can reach us almost any time.