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Our Tire Bale Home Keeps Us Toasty Warm

April 2, 2009

We’re quite proud of our home. Ours is the first tire bale home construction to be completed and occupied.

The house has been warm through the winter months on sunny days, it gets as high as 84 degrees even hotter when sitting directly in the sunshine. At night the temperatures hang around 60 degrees without a fire going in the wood stove and 70-74 degrees with a fire going when outside temperatures are above 10 degrees. We have noticed that when outside temperatures dip under 10 degrees or go sub-zero, we have to really boost the heat in the house either by a constant rip-roaring fire and/or using the baseboard heaters. Fortunately, we have had a mild winter. You see, it takes about 3 years for the thermal mass to completely “heat up” and we’re just now coming into the third year. The most notable difference in the temperature of the house seems to be how much sun we get during the day and are the window coverings closed as quickly as possible when the sun sets or when the sun goes behind clouds for too long.

We had been living with blue 1-inch styrofoam in the windows to keep our heat inside until February. The first round of motorized triple-cell blinds were installed the second week of February and with these, we really noticed how well the house holds heat! Nearly every sunny day is t-shirt and shorts weather inside of our home. We can hardly wait to get the blinds installed into the east end of the house!

We have watched the sun move more northerly in the sky as well as how that affects changes in the heating of our home. In January and February, the sun came into the house as far back as the height of the tire bale walls (20+ feet back and about 10-feet high). Now, in April, the sun only comes into the house about 2-feet back.

We have seen no signs of structural stress although we have seen signs of settling. Nothing serious though.

We have been working with a couple of teams of students from the Colorado School of Mines EPICS program on studies of the house. We hope to see some materials from this work soon.

We have become a part of the economic downturn in that since our home is so unique, we cannot secure a mortgage, which would allow us to purchase and install solar panels and complete the front courtyard. No lending institutions wish to be a part of this “new” technology even though this technology has been around for many years. No comps no loan. Hopefully, more tire bale homes will be completed this year!

Many people have contacted us asking how they too can build a house like this one. For most questions, we refer people to our designer Michael Shealy of Touch the Earth Construction.

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