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I used my solar-powered workshop trailer (see HP47) to provide all the power for construction. We tore down the old farmhouse and salvaged as much of the old materials as was practical. We set posts in the late fall of 1994 and started construction in early spring of 1995. We moved into our new house in early spring of 1996 with many details yet to be completed, but it was ours. We are still working on it.

We have installed a 1 KW solar array consisting of sixteen Solarex panels, eight MSX-60s and eight MSX-64s, mounted on the roof of the house, and an AIR 403 wind generator mounted in our son's playground. These combine to charge twelve Concorde 4-D batteries wired for 1,260 amp-hours of capacity at 24 volts. The solar array is controlled by a Trace C-40 charge controller, and the inverter is a Trace SW4024, connected to the batteries through a Trace DC-250 disconnect. An E-Meter is used to monitor the system.

The house also has grid power available. We use it for backup charging of the batteries and to run baseboard electric heaters as needed in the winter.

The passive solar design provides a large portion of our heating needs, and a woodstove does most of the heating during cloudy periods. We have burned one cord of mixed hardwood per winter for the past four winters. Our bills from the electric company run about US$10 a month in the summer, US$8 of which is the service charge, and approximately US$50 a month in the winter months, November through March.

We use propane for hot water, cooking, and a clothes dryer, which costs US$175 for a year's supply. We use an Aquastar tankless water heater and dry our clothes outside when the weather is good. So our total annual energy costs average approximately US$650.

For wiring in the straw, we used BX cable and metal boxes screwed to wooden stakes. Main wire runs are in the attic.

Plastic and the first sheet of insulation laid over foundation gravel.

A 7 inch (18 cm) thick slab was poured over 2 inches (5 cm) of extruded foam insulation for the thermal mass in the passive solar main room.

The finished home with the RE system.

Winter temperatures can dip well below 0°F (-18°C) in east central Illinois, with strong winds on this flat, open prairie. Our straw bale house has provided us with a very comfortable, energy-efficient home.

After living here for almost five years, we are very happy with our decision to build with straw. It has been our goal to show others through example that we can live comfortably without consuming excessively and polluting our environment.


Jon Haeme, Jon Haeme Innovations,1525E 3600N Rd., Kempton, IL 60946 • 815-253-6216 [email protected]

Out On Bale (un) Ltd., Judy Knox and Matts Myhrman, 2509 N. Campbell, #292, Tucson, AZ 85719 520-622 6896 • [email protected]

DAWN / Out On Bale By Mail, Joelee Joyce, 6570 W. Illinois St., Tucson, AZ 85735 • 520-624-1673 [email protected]

The Last Straw Journal, HC 66, Box 119, Hillsboro, NM 88042 505-895-5400 • Fax: 505-895-3326 [email protected]

But you can always rely on Rolls batteries.

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