Winter good, Winter bad.

Actually I think I'll go for the bad first. Weather induced bad. Just before Christmas we had our annual freeze and the temperature dropped to minus 4 overnight (I know it's not that cold, but remember, this is sunny, warm Valencia in Spain). All the animals' water buckets froze solid and there was a hard frost which did away with the more delicate outdoor plants. Our hot water system is on the roof, it is one of those solar heaters with a tank and a panel, and at about 2pm on the day of the freeze it started gushing water out of all the wrong places. The inner tubes had burst - apparently the installers didn't remember the anti-freeze - and there ended our hot water for three weeks. The company were very good, they replaced everything under guarantee but unfortunately it hasn't been sunny since and we still don't have hot water. Our back up system is the old bathroom which means quick dashes through the garden and a return to the days of no electricity. Oh well.
But wait! There's more. Last Thursday we were absolutely battered by the wildest winds I have ever experienced. This is what the street leading to our house looked like. We were lucky in that none of the trees on our block fell over. One lost a big branch and that's it. Oscar's parents' place was one of the worst. This is one of the five big trees that they lost.

I guess the bright side is that we now have firewood for the next 30 years, which leads me conveniently into the Winter good bit...
Nice huh? We love it. The earthship is not cold at all. In fact this winter the temperature in the coolest part of the house has not dropped below 16.5ºC. But, who doesn't love a fire? And the oven on top has been put to very good use already. Makes everything cozy despite the no hot water and crazy winds. The other good thing is the photovoltaic system. We have had enough electricity to see us through almost three weeks of grey. Four days autonomy has stretched into many more with careful use and the odd glimpse of sun. Very pleased with the whole system.

Comments

  1. LOve the woodfire! bummer about the no hot water - that would drive me nuts!

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  2. Anonymous3:24 pm

    Hola Familia.
    Quería felicitaros por vuestro proyecto,y tambien conoceros para hacerlo en persona,pues es simplemente genial.Hace algunos meses conocí el concepto Earthship y cambió nuestras vidas en la prespectiva de la vivienda que deseamos para nosotros y nuestra futura familia. Me hubiese gustado saber de vuestro proyecto antes y haber podido asistir y echar una mano a la vez de aprender con toda la crew.Me presento...mi nombre es gus y mi mujer se llama Ines.Actualmente vivimos en Moina de Segura,pero disponemos de un terreno rustico en Alicante de 1 hectárea donde pretendemos empezar a construirnos un Earthship de un dormitorio este mismo año,pues disponemos de tiempo, amigos y algún dinero.Quisiera preguntaros si tuvisteis muchos problemas para obtener las licencias municipales,pues imagino que no fué fácil de argumentar a un técnico municipal. Me imagino....Un erzzzsippp???Ruedas de coche usadas??Como dice???je,je.
    Nos gustaría obtener los permisos necesarios para construir en rústica,es posible en la comunidad valenciana???.Es necerario un proyecto???? .Agradeciendo de antemano toda vuestra informacion y a la espera de noticias.

    Un afectuoso saludo.

    Gus&Ines.
    gustonomia@yahoo.es

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  3. Anonymous1:50 pm

    Hola!

    Increible la casa! Desde hace muy poco nos llegó información sobre estos maravillosos proyectos y desde ese mismo momento decidimos invertir nuestro tiempo y esfuerzo en contruir la primera earthship..

    Suponemos que este "cambio" de utopía a realidad lo vivisteis como ahora lo vivimos nosotros y nos gustaria conocer un poco mejor los problemas a los que nos vamos a enfrentar..

    Si disponeís de unos minutos de vez en cuando nos gustaria intercambiar correos con el fin de conocer mas detalladamente esta información o resolver cualquier posible duda..

    garibolo_studio@hotmail.com

    Muchisimas gracias.

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  4. Hi Lisa & Oscar
    Looks like you've had it pretty rough there this winter! I'm glad to hear you managing with the solar panels and that you still have some electricity, life sucks when that goes off! I guess chopping up that firewood will keep you both fit for a while and warm for years. We are still here in Gaucin living el campo which is interesting with the track becoming a river where it hasn't collapsed altogether blocking access. Never mind, a shovel and a bit of hard work clearing the way keeps us fit too!

    Keep the faith and hope to catch you again when the weather breaks

    Steve & Lesley

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  5. hi, it's snowing heavily here in Barcelona -about five inches so far, very christmasy, but it was tee shirt weather only 2 days ago!
    Congratulations on your building, it's quite an achievement.
    Similar to Gus, we are wondering what your experience was complying with building normativas-In particular: did you have any difficulty getting agreement for your grey water / drainage systems, did you have to install a biodigester? and what about building walls out of dirt and tyres?
    I am guessing that having a sympathetic architect, technical architect and aparejador are very necessary for a smooth operation.

    As with many of your corresponadants, we are also planning to build a sustainable house, but with more emphasis on year round food production, so our design is looking for more indoor growing space to be located above the living space. Given your experience with high temperatures in summer we will be designing in plenty of ventilation!
    Do you grow a significant amount of food indoors or is it more about green companionship & feelgood factor - how has your experience with that been?
    We'd love to hear from you - but don't worry if you're busy.

    All the best,

    Will and Claudia

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  6. Hi,

    We are a young couple from Chiva (Valencia) living temporarily in Granada. We just discovered earthships two weeks ago and we're enthusiastic about it (what a surprise when we saw that there was already an earthship in Valencia). We're collecting as much information as we can about permissions, building techniques, materials, water, energy, and more issues in order to start our own project. It would be very helpful for us if we could visit your place and ask you about your experience and problems.We know there might be lots of people asking you for a visit so we'd understand if you didn't feel confortable with the idea.

    Thanks a lot in advance!

    Júlia & Guille

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  7. Hello Will and Amphipod. Please send me your email addresses to lisajane_r@hotmail.com and I will get back to you personally. I don't tend to write huge long answers here.
    regards
    lisa

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  8. Hi Oscar and Lisa,
    I found your blog a couple of days ago and have been trauling through it to see how you got on building your house. After I build a shed to live in I will then start on my sustainable house.
    I have really enjoyed your jottings and photos. I will look forward more as time goes by.
    See ya
    Myles

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  9. Sorry about the no hot water. Had a question about the house in the summer. Does it ever get too hot in the house. On the hottest day does the house stay cool?
    Do you have to shade the windows?
    You have a beautiful house.
    THanks
    Kenny

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  10. Thanks Myles!
    And KenRay - we need blinds yes, but can't afford them at the moment. The house is great in winter but does get a bit arm in summer, though nowhere near the outdoor temps. We need to save our pennies!
    The hut does stay cooler because it has so much less glass.
    Lisa

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  11. KenRay2:06 am

    THanks for the reply. Had another question. How many Kw does your system produce? How many batteries do you have?
    Does that meet your needs for power?
    Kenny

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  12. Question: What is the composition of the mud on the interior walls?
    Thanks
    Kenny

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  13. Anonymous4:51 pm

    Hi Lisa and Oscar,
    I just discovered the earthship concept about a month ago and the idea really seduced me and my partner, we are looking to buy a land in northern spain.At the moment I'm still researching through the web all the informations I can get about how to built an earthship, it's amazing to see all the different blogs of people around the world who share their experiences.
    I just wanted to know how it went for you guys with the spanish authorities when you applied for planning(or building) permit?? could you let me know via my personnal email?? here it is: pixiepascus@yahoo.fr
    Thank you for your time.
    Pascaline

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  14. Oh dear, sorry for such late replies. Kenray, we produce about 5Kw a day and have 12 batteries. Not car batteries but proper deep cycle things that the professionals installed. I think there is a photo of them somewhere on the blog. We haven't run out of electricity yet and last winter was one of the greyest I have known in Spain. The mud walls are soil, sand, straw and water.
    lisa

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