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Renewable Energy

Passive dome house in Sedona (AZ)

Posted by Dirk-Jan de Wilde in Energy saving Add comments

Koepelwoning met zonnepanelenDear readers and visitors of the OliNo.org website, I would like to share a part of my experience as a Dutch visitor, when I was travelling in the warm and deep South of the USA during October until January of 2009. In December I spent some time in beautiful Sedona (Arizona) where I encountered a dome house in a rural area.

Because alternative forms of lifestyle and housing have always interested me, I drove by the dome to have a closer look at it. At that time the owner of the house seemed to be absent and in an attempt to ease my curiosity, I walked around this fascinating building and had a closer look. I also made some pictures of which some are added to this article.

Balcony with window at southside

Balcony with window at southside

Dome house with solar panels

Dome house with solar panels

Futuristic looking garden rocket

Futuristic looking garden rocket

What attracted my attention were a substantial array of solar panels, a couple of windmills and a gas tank. The owner apparently lived off grid i.e. not connected to the regular electricity and gas network. There is a good chance that also a water well was drilled because once you’re this far you also want to be be self sufficient with respect to water. Furthermore, there was a so called solar oven in the garden (very practical with the intense and hot Arizona sun) and somewhere a bit further the remains of an old space rocket lying on its side.

Baking and frying with the solar oven

Baking and frying with the solar oven

Wind energy also being utilized

Wind energy also being utilized

In my home country of the Netherlands, I had been reading about domes before, as a cost efficient form of housing. Because we are currently living in a time in which owning a house – despite the moral or financial crisis – requires considerable resources, less expensive housing alternatives received more and more of my personal attention.
On the internet a lot of information can be found about dome housing and its alternative way of building and living. To build it, shortly said, a dome shaped parachute-like structure is being inflated which is then covered by a certain type of concrete and by using a special machine. Costs are mainly being saved by the fact that the dome structure can be erected in a shorter amount of time and also because there is less investment in a costly foundation. Besides this, I remembered some characteristics of domes that resulted in less heating loss so that more money could be saved in heating.

Dome house in full

Dome house in full

After I had finished taking pictures and had gotten into my car, the home owner arrived. As is the custom in the American Southwest, I was greeted warmly and an even friendlier conversation was begun. I explained that I had seen the house while driving by and wanted to take a closer look. The friendly owner then invited me inside to explain more about it.

The invitation was accepted and a very interesting story followed about low building costs, the romance of living off grid and a low energy consumption. Towards the sunny side, the south, there was a large window of which a low standing winter sun is capable of shining through, but not a high summer sun. This way the dome house barely required heating during the winter and in summertime, the air conditioning is barely needed. I was astounded by the simplicity of this technique and its results.

"Dome living" by David B. South

"Dome living" by David B. South

Fair enough, the house owner’s name is Mason Rumney and he seems to be an authority in some extent regarding domes and energy efficient living.

The interested reader can visit Mason Rumney’s website for more info:
http://masonrumney.org/domes.html
On this website there is also a link to his email adres if you may wish to contact him.

Through Google more can be found about Mason Rumney and domes

And, last but not least, much ‘passive energy’ reading fun!

Dirk-Jan de Wilde
Eindhoven, the Netherlands

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