Winterizing Earthships in Taos
As temperatures begin to dip below freezing in Taos, New Mexico, and snow is moving in, we begin to suit up and take the necessary steps to ensure that our living conditions are as efficient as they promise. Although our Global models prove their efficiency in terms of functionality and temperature stabilization, some of our older buildings may need some small tune-ups to keep warm this winter. Here are a few examples that may help for your home too:
Propane levels need to be monitored especially in the winter months as it is used in heating water and cooking in some homes. You can check the gauge on the tank to see the percentage of gas remaining. It is good to keep a back-up tank available.
Maintaining an airtight seal on your doors and windows is essential for stopping cold drafts and keeping your home at a comfortable consistent temperature. Weather stripping is sometimes used in older buildings for drafts that come in mainly through doorframes.
For those who power their homes solely through the use of solar panels, it is important to supervise the power usage especially during snowy (or rainy) seasons when the amount of solar gain is reduced. If there is an accumulation of snow, the solar panels will need to be cleared although it might melt off on its own, to ensure that you will be able to generate the maximum amount of power.
Plastic is used to double line the windows that allow the passage of cold air into a home. Different kinds of plastics are used in different scenarios. For example, in the skylights, they are lined with a 10-mil plastic but on the actual skylight itself and not on the inside so that they are still operable.
In our Visitor Center, we use a thinner plastic that responds to the amount of heat of the greenhouses. It also protects the wood framing from the condensation that could damage the wood finish over time. The plastic is Ace Crystal Clear Bulk Shrink Film for winterizing patio doors. This is used with exterior double-sided tape. The shrink film when heated shrinks and pulls tight so you can barely see that it is there. This creates a 6-inch airlock between the 1-inch double glass window facing the outside cold temps, and the warm moist interior, which minimizes the condensation. If condensation does happen due to very cold outside temps, the condensation forms on the plastic instead of the wood and glass.
Contributions by: Kris Wallin, Michelle Lochler