In a web conversation, a Montana mountain man told me that he'd just  BUILT his own home,  very inexpensively,  using as many' 'found', available and free materials as possible. Free stuff? In the middle of MONTANA? I asked him how he did it.

"The basement long wall is on the south side. What did you build that wall of? And what did you put on top of  that basement space? In the southern states, I know it would be some open lattice for breeze, but that place looks like the frozen north." He'd sent me graphics.

"Yes, stone basement, (stones found on site? Straw??). This will be enclosed with green house with a straw bale insulated wall (bales between the posts stuccoed) and then dumpster dived hot water heaters under glas for solar heat storage. The heat storage will have sensors that will run dumpster dived muffing fans (12 volt fans from PC power supplies) for keeping the grren house up to temp. There will also be the option to circulate house air with the water tank storage using the same style muffin fans. The south wall of the "house" part, the up stairs main living area, will get flat black sheet metal roofing attached, then glazing over that (dumpster dived sliding glass doors) such that I can circulate house air over the black sheet metal (the inside wall will be straw baled and stuccoed) and get heated up and brought back in to the house via 4" square wooden ductwork built in to the bales and the collectors. This will eliminate the idea of siding, produce energy and it is fireproof. And yes, the place may as well be the frozen north in the winter. One morning after xmas, I woke to a sense of the living room being rather cold. A look at the thermometer said something like 12F. Then I realized I could not hear any sound form the wood stove, no random crackling. Switch the thermometer to inside reading: 32.5F I got up butt naked, started the fire in the stove, went back to bed for half hour, woke up toasty. A few nights in Feb it went to just under 3F outside at night. First time I have ever been in temps that cold.

 For instance, he'd done walls of strawbales, that were plastered into big, thick insulated walls to withstand their cold winters. He'd made one wall just of old, thrown away water heaters. That caught my attention.

I asked "why do people throw those water heaters away? I know every l0 yrs they DO give up the ghost. How many times I've had my basement storage areas flooded by the little devils. I know that something on them has to be no good as it  floods basement every time. Or floods the HOUSE. HOW do your resuscitate them?

As you see i keep info on my FARMING directory. Just stashed your readout on how to build a house cheaply. So tell me.I'll share it.

He answered, "They throw them away because what are Ken and Barbie going to do with a
leaky or almost ready to leak hot water tank? Due to the fact that they are glass lined and under fereral safety regs (serious ones) because of hot water under pressure, when they do go, there are no economical or litigational options for anyone to try and repair them. Like fixing toasters.
My thrift store toaster cost 8$. A new toaster is $ $20. Fixing one is $50. And that assumes you have the parts to do so!
I will epoxy any holes in the dead heaters and will not store water in them under pressure. It just sits in the sunlight, painted black, heating the water. And I can hardly imagine getting them up to 150F or the abouts. So my application is just perfect for using them.

Q: What do you store in them? just water? HOT WATER? Where does pressure come in.
A: The dead water tanks are simply thermal mass.An insulated pile of rocks or dead car engine blocks wouldaccomplish the same thing. There is no pressure. They are just big jugs full of water.
I will use duct work and small fans to circulate heat from them in to the green house or into the house upstairs. This is a very common theme, in general, in solar heating systems. I assume they are warm but so insulated as they are, double layer metal, didn't think they could heat up like the same mass if it were a bottle, a coke bottle 6 feet tall."

But they do heat up, you're sure?"
"Yes. They will be metal and painted black. Black body heat absorption and dissipation is classic physics.Here is some thing for you to do to get an idea of how it works. Get yourself 3 carboard boxes (corrogated, not cereal box) that come close to nesting. If there is a small gap, that is OK. Next them in such a way that the inner box opening "edge" is maybe 1/8" inside the box, while the two outer boxes have parallel edges. The idea is to get a piece of window glass to fit inside the open lip. Line the box with aluminum foil. Stick a quart jar in the box on some scrunched news paper so that the box can rest on a tilt and have it's opening directly facing the sun (that bright thing in the sky that we call a UFO). Maybe stick a meat thermometer in the box, one with a radial dial scale on it. Since you have so much sun, this will blow your mind if you actually do it. And to answer your last question, yes, the hot water tanks, flat black, in the sun under glass, will get more than warm. Since they will be in an insulated are with double paned windows on the south side, they will retain their warmth for a long time.
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LADIES if you've read this far, you're really into conservation. So...let's apply the theory to your area of activity. When you're cooking, you're using precious fuel. So why not use a hay box.   Have you ever used a hay box?  Historically, women would boil up a meal (stew or soup) then put food and pot  in a wood box stuffed with hay and send it off into the fields with their husband-farmers.  That was the start of it.  Food continued to cook in the insulated box, was piping hot hours later when the farmers broke for lunch out in the fields.  African women do the same thing, only they call it a cooking basket, stuff hay into cloth bags which line a big basket where rice & meat can cook after being boiled in the morning.....saves heat where heat means walking miles to find fuel.  Hot lunch even on a snowy field. Modern variations say any insulated container will allow your food to continue to cook and keep it hot without additional fuel.

I have a whole box of old papers I need to shred and lots of fabric.  Also have a pressure cooker with a really tight lid and stainless steel pot.  Am thinking of making a quilted bag big enough to fit the pressure cooker pot, fill it with smaller fabric bags stuffed with shredded paper that are easy to pack around the pot....with a small wood "plate" to set the cooker on.  The pressure cooker top will ensure no spills, even if it is tipped to the side accidentally, but the safety on the pressure cooker guarantees that any dangerous amount of steam (there shouldn't be much) could escape.  Whole thing would fit on a kitchen counter without the clunky box and without loose pot lids,  having to try to grab a pot out from the top or try to fit everything around a could have the opening of the bag to the side and grab the pressure cooker pot by the handle no problem.   The reason for doing all this is to find a way to keep a meal cooking and/or hot without additional "fuel".  Our only fuel is electricity, real common in condos here.   Crockpots are a good option, but if I can find a way  to cook without even the amount of electricity that a crockpot would use, all the better.

So.... ever thought about how much that gas is costing you when you cook? Be willing to try to use a hay box or an equivalent?   Have  hubby build you a hay box!

Last, investigate the SOLAR OVEN. Can be built in any garden. First sunny day you bake up some bread.