Man Living in a Sustainable & Innovative Earthship Home - Full Tour

This 3-bedroom Earthship home has it all: 10kW of solar panels, rainwater collection cisterns, indoor gardens, a wood-fired boiler, and passive cooling tubes. It's built with recycled tires, bottles and cans, and off-cuts from a log home builder. After years of following the Earthship movement, Matt was able to take a course at the Earthship Academy with Michael Reynolds in New Mexico and then worked with Ted Elsasser to build his own passive solar home in Ontario, Canada.

Man Living in a Sustainable & Innovative Earthship Home - Full Tour




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>>DANIELLE: Hey everyone in this video, we're visiting a stunning
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three-bedroom Earthship home in Ontario, Canada.
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The house was built with recycled tires. It has a massive 10 kW solar power system.
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It collects and stores rainwater for flushing the toilets.
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It recycles greywater through the indoor gardens
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and it has a wood-fired boiler for the in-floor radiant heating system.
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This house isn't a typical Earthship
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and we love the creative ways that the builder has found to adapt the design for his lifestyle, location and climate.
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Let's go check it out.
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This video is sponsored by NordVPN.
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We'll give you more information about them at the end
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and a discount code for a great deal on their VPN service.
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[Music Playing]
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>>MATT: With this Earthship,
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we have two bedrooms down this wing
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and then there is a third bedroom down the other end with another living room.
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I have rented that space out
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to a friend that I met actually through Airbnb.
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Once in a while,
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we will even rent out this room on Airbnb
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to share it with people
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online as well and they are able to experience the earthship
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and get inspired to maybe build or do their own thing, too.
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That is a big part of why I did this and shared it as I went along was just to be able to encourage
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like-minded thinking and encourage other people that they can do it too.
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[Music Playing]
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So we are in the great room here, kitchen is to my left
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and then the living room here.
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We are all walking around in bare feet and right now, it is
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summer temperatures and our feet are nice and cool.
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So that is one of the cool passive features about building with cement is that
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it is cooling right now in our summer and our sun angle
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is not low.
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So the winter it is low when it comes in, it charges the floor, charges the back wall.
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But in the summer, the sun is going high and so it's not coming into the space at all.
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In fact, when the sun is shining, it only comes a little bit into the greenhouse and
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doesn't charge the thermal mass.
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The other thing that is massive in here that's cement is these buttresses
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so these buttresses are put in about every 15 to 20 feet and they are a
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support piece that is holding the earth back. So when I talk about charging a thermal mass,
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basically it is like
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charging a battery. Essentially, we all understand how to charge a battery.
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So this is our sun or heat battery and the sun is charging that battery, that heat battery,
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the thermal mass of the floor. And so,
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right now it is not charging it. So it's great!
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So it's cool on our feet but in the winter
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it is charging it and also charging these buttresses, so like
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adding heat energy to anything that is cement and connected.
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All these design principles that we're talking about that is so cool
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it's Michael Reynolds who figured these out.
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He's the Guru behind this and and has been doing this for over
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25 years in New Mexico.
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So when I was interested in Earthships like 20 years ago when I was in college, and I was like
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this is the coolest thing and it was only
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5 or 6 years ago that I had the time and money to go down there and learn from Michael Reynolds.
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So I did a two month internship there,
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learnt about the buildings and got hands-on experience
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and in-class experience and then when I came back here,
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I found some land to buy and I found one of the guys
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who used to work for Michael Reynolds who had gone on his own,
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Ted Elsasser. He was able to come here and spend 2 summers consecutively.
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He was a key part to the build
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but he was only here for those 2 months.
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Then, I was on my own with whatever other general contractors I could bring
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in to do the building of the structure.
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So I've been living here for 2 years,
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and so I've sort of seen it work and I'm really happy with how it's performing.
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One of the main
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principles in Earthships is food production.
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So being able to grow your own food throughout the whole season inside
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is a great asset.
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We've got these cool planter cells and there's 2 of them in this building.
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These white tubes allow you to sort of see where
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the standing level of the water is and so they're a greywater holding cell.
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So when we wash our hands or have a shower, the water
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flushes into here before it goes out to the septic tank. Below the soil, you've got
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one foot of A gravel and
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then filter cloth, a foot of sand, and then filter cloth; and that kind of acts like a bit of a filter itself then above
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that is our one foot of soil. So that's what the plants are growing in
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is that one foot of soil,
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but the water sits in the sand level and then through the plants...can like
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little straws, basically it can suck up that water from down low. So once the plants are established
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then we don't need to water them.
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It's been great to be able to grow our own food and just come out here and pick it as needed in the kitchen.
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It's super fun!
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So we're just in one of the bathrooms of the Earthship, and I wanted to showcase
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when we catch the water off the roof and flush the toilet that we have 2 options basically.
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We're always typically flushing the rainwater and using that to
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flush our poop and pee out to the septic bed.
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We have the ability to also hook onto town water.
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So if I didn't have enough rainwater sitting in my
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tank in the back and I wasn't able to flush the toilet and nothing was happening
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or filling up then I would just switch
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this line to the town line and still have water coming in.
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So it's always nice to have
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2 ways to do things.
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So just like in the heating source where I've got wood or propane, we've got
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town or roof water;
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and so you always have backups in your systems, is always a good idea.
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So we're in my bedroom closet and this is where I decided to put my truth window.
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So in a lot of straw bale builds and Earthship builds, they have a truth window.
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So this is a spot where you can see behind the wall,
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and we're able to see the tire work.
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There are over a thousand tires in the build.
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So they are all sourced locally just from going around to different tire places.
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So we're in the right side of my building is a garage/workshop and this is also sort of where our
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mechanical room is. I just had a lot of space
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within the room to be able to build all this
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beautiful plumbing wall.
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So this is where the
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wood-fired boiler is that heats the water that goes into this tank here.
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So when I get a fire going, I try to get it
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between 120 to 150 degrees.
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Then it takes that water and puts it through these six different jets, into six different zones in the house.
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So on the thermostat command it will send it to different rooms to keep it at that moderate temperature.
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And so if I'm not heating with wood,
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then we've got it backed up with this on-demand propane.
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And it will just kick on and keep it at 120 when it goes into the floors.
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So the convenience about heating water
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and then putting it into the floor, is that your floors are thermal mass.
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So then it's working in conjunction with the sun.
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So the sun is coming in and this is a south-facing Earthship.
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So the sun coming in in the winter,
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say we want it to charge that thermal mass, your floor, to heat it
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and then this is adding heat
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to that already heated floor by the sun or
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if it's a cloudy day, then obviously it's boosting it that way.
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So we just fire wood in here and then heat her up.
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There's a thermostat here that
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tells us our temperature and we want to get it between 200 and 250 and then once it's set between 200 to 250.
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Then it starts pumping through this and into there to store heated water.
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So we're still in the garage, this is where electrical
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the grid feed system comes into the house.
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And so the solar panels are right above us here
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because you want to have a nice short run of wire
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because it's an expensive wire that runs from the solar panels down to your
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inverter and basically this sends
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the power back to the grid.
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So we got in on the government program just before it closed out
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and I think the
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buy back was that they were buying our power back at 28 cents a kilowatt.
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But we only pay between 11 and 17 cents a kilowatt.
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So that's how you make money back
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is through a monthly check. I still pay them but then they also send me a check for whatever I make.
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So it will take between 10 and 15 years and then the solar panels will be paid off.
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The solar panels I put in are a 10 kW system and they cost around
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$30,000 or $40,000 to put in because I had to have a racking system to hold them on a certain angle.
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Often Earthships will have the tires and then on top of the tires, they will have
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cement lime finish that's like an Adobe finish or
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they will move from cement to a clay plaster.
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So I was able to find this clay locally.
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It just had this pinkish hue and I really didn't like the pink clay look
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and so I just came up with this new idea of how to clad my walls.
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It doesn't work on the idea of
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storing the thermal mass into the wall because I don't have the cement but it looks pretty cool.
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These are reclaimed pieces of pine from a local builder.
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He's a log home builder.
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And these are his off cuts and it makes it look and feel kind of like a log home.
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So we are at the back of the Collingwod Earthship and we are just back here to show you some of the
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features. So the back has these two cisterns that are buried in the earth.
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The cisterns have some insulation around them and they are buried about 4 feet in the earth. And that is
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catching water off the roof
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and that water then goes in and we use that for flushing the toilets.
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So we recycle our gray water as well
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through a catchment system that puts it into the planter cells
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and those planter cells are then passively watered from below
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and then when the water gets to a certain level it overflows out into the cisterns at the front.
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So that's kind of how a lot of earthships use and reuse their water.
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The other thing that we're pretty proud of is just all of our rock work.
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It was something that I learned along the way
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was building with rocks and cement and so it's been kind of fun to
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repurpose like fieldstone, granite field stone, into the walls and make it look even more earthy.
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Back here, we can even see the cooling tubes
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that go through the berm basically
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so it's a 10-inch tube that goes 15 feet through the berm and
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then enters each of the rooms have either one or two of these cooling tubes and in the front of the house
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in the greenhouse
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we've got whirlybirds which are an out vent
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that we open those vents at the top
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and then have these ones open down low.
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And so that's how we passively cool the house in the summer and it works great!
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It does definitely bring down the temperature and you feel the air flow coming in.
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In the winter, we just keep them closed up so that the air doesn't come in
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and we've got them double screened and meshed so that no insects or bugs get in there as well.
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So it works two ways: number one, it works through what is called the stack effect.
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So basically with the air coming in at a low point and then going out at a high point.
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That's how the air gets sort of drawn out
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and then as the air passes through the earth
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it helps to cool it as well through those 15 feet of earth.
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These ones that I've set up are totally passive
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and the air just sort of gets drawn in through that stack effect and goes
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through on its own.
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The way we heat this Earthship is through a wood-fired boiler and
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when I am not firing the wood, then this is our backup system
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and so with every build in Ontario,
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you need to have some kind of a backup
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so electrical heat, propane, or through natural gas. You have to have some source
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that just comes automatically and heats your house if you are not going to be there.
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So this was what I chose here in this scenario.
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just because it worked well with my wood-fired boiler and it also does our domestic water.
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So it will heat our shower or wash the clothes. It will heat that on demand as well.
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So just 2 tanks and I figured out that I burned half of
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what the houses that are in the front of my property.
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I have a couple of other houses and they burn twice as much and they are half the size of my house.
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So we are able to supplement a lot by wood
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and the wood is also typically just reclaimed from projects that I am doing or
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local builders or whatever, I'll do a bit of dumpster-diving for wood if I need to.
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[Music Playing]
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When I was younger and growing up,
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I just really wanted to give back to the environment
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and just was really environmentally conscious and in school, I just took recreation leadership.
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So I always liked being outside and I knew that
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this type of building used recycled bottles and cans
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and reused tires. It just has to be a good thing and then be conscious of sun angles and solar gain
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and all these things working together, it just made sense!
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The other thing that hooks a lot of people is the fact that they think
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"Oh, it's a cheap way to build" because you're recycling all these things.
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It can be cheap.
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It can be done cheap, but it also takes a lot of labour.
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So for example collecting probably took a month or 2
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and then the pounding the tires took another 2 or 3 months.
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So it is a lot of work to put it all together.
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But then once it is built, it is there forever
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and it is an amazing building and it works well.
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[Music Playing]
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>>DANIELLE: If you are interested in Earthships,
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we have had the chance to visit quite a few
13:05
and you can check them out in our Earthship video playlist.
13:07
We will put a link to that in the description of the video.
13:09
If you want to learn more about Matt's Earthship build,
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we will link to his blog down below as well.
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