Of course after purchasing the land the planning of the house began. Somehow we stumbled across the Earthship concept. We knew we wanted to be completely off grid and this building method seemed to be a possibility. We purchased all the books and began to study the system. The Earthship is the brain child of Michael Reynolds in which a house is completely off grid using passive solar for heating, solar panels for electricity, roof rain water collection, the use of water four ways and built from tires!
In 2008 we were attending a bowling tournament in Albuquerque so we decided to run up to Taos and stay in the Phoenix for a night and see it first hand.
We arrived on a 40 degree day outside and the indoor temperature was 68. Now remember that the Phoenix has NO traditional heating, only a single fireplace that we did not use. The building is full of plants all watered from the grey water generated from the showers, sinks, etc.
I noticed while touring the building that the showers were not enclosed, in fact there were basically no full height walls surrounding them. My thoughts quickly turned to the next morning when my wife would be showering open to the environment and subject to the chill of the early morning. I was concerned!
Well the following morning came and to my delight the temperature had dropped to only 65 degrees without any supplemental heating and overnight temperatures dropping into the 30s, but I was still concerned about showering in the open. Well amazingly we both were VERY comfortable. I thought back to my college days many years earlier and remembered that comfort of a human body is greatly effected by the temperature of the surrounding surfaces and with the massive walls still relatively warm they were not drawing heat from our bodies and therefore we were very comfortable. At that moment I knew that this is how we were going to build!