Girasol (Spanish): Sunflower, literally “turn to the sun”
This unique property is offered for sale
Nestled against the west slope of northern New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this home sits at an altitude of just less than 8,000 ft.. It looks out over the Rio Grande Gorge, Taos Mesa and the Jemez Mountains to the west, Colorado’s San Juans on the horizon to the north, and Picaris, Truchas and Trampas peaks to the south. Visitors have called it “a million-dollar view”. With virtually no light pollution, the night sky is spectacular.
We’re about a 20 minute drive north of the famous blinking light (it actually was, at one time) of Taos, a half-hour or so to Taos Ski Valley, and less than an hour or two to five other ski areas [Santa Fe Ski Basin, Sipapu, Red River, Enchanted Forest (cross country) and Angel Fire], and about a 10 minute bicycle ride to the tiny and ever friendly post office of the village of San Cristobal, our closest community of neighbors.
A five minute walk will put you into the mountain mahogany, scrub oak, piñon, juniper and Ponderosa of the Carson National Forest.

Under the tutelage of one of the country’s experts in passive solar design, Karlis Viceps, and with supervision of another pioneer in the development of off-grid solar electrical systems, Nick Stallard, we took more than two years to design GiraSol, from the ground up. Interrupted by the Hondo Fire that occurred on “Cinco de Mayo” (5th of May) in 1996, we broke ground on Cinco de Mayo, 1997, and moved in on that same date in 1998.

With the proper balance between glazing and thermal mass you’ll never experience the frequent overheating so common in other houses where designers think lots of south facing windows alone make a “solar” house. Flagstone, rock and adobe brick not only provide the thermal mass needed to absorb and store the daytime heat from the winter sun and give it back to the home at night, but they also warmly and safely surround you with the natural elements of the earth. Proper window placement ensures delightful cross-ventilation in the summer.
Click on any of the photos on this page for a larger version.

Optimum for solar gain, the semi-circular foundation design is modeled after one of the earliest passive solar structures on this continent, Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon, close to a thousand years old and a five hour drive from here (well worth a visit). Self-insulated Rastra® Block offers structural form and high insulation value to all but the south face, itself consisting primarily of glazing and Trombe walls, a feature that soaks up the winter sun in the daytime and releases it to the interior at night. With that wall facing due south, you can watch the Equinox sun set directly at its west end, casting its light through the half-glass of the entry door and through the house into a nicho at the far end of the living room at the end of the day.

Electricity is provided by 12 Siemens® photovoltaic panels, 600 watts total, split into two arrays on the roof. A Southwest Windpower Air-Breeze® wind generator, rated at 200 watts @ 28 mph, supplements electricity production during stormy weather. A Yamaha EF100iS® (rated output: 1.21 kW) serves as a backup generator several times a year during prolonged periods of cloudy weather. These all feed into the off-grid power system consisting of 8 large commercial storage batteries, inverter and charge controller, producing both direct and alternating current.

A rain-water catchment system provides our water. The south-sloped roof with snow-stops drains water both summer and winter into three buried and connected potable water tanks (totaling 3,600 gallons capacity) that are bermed against the east and northeast wall, providing further insulation to both house and water mass. Water is filtered upon entry to the house.

Other features include:
Solar hot-water: 30-gallon batch tank, designed to back-up and preheat propane hot-water system or bypass it.
Solar food drying racks: We’ve dried fruit, mushrooms, vegetables and meats.
Solar clothes dryer: aka clothes-line (winter drying of clothes inside house on a sunny day adds great moisture to your interior climate).
Jotul woodstove: This stove, with catalytic converter, has been a delight to use.
Note: An in-floor radiant heating system was originally installed but has never been used, other than for initial successful trials. The combination of the passive solar design and the above-mentioned wood stove has proved sufficient for all our use and more responsive to daily temperature changes. Should its use ever be desired, current code would mandate the flushing of the system prior to its utilization and the installation of an additional boiler.
Natural lighting: The luxury and comfort of natural lighting need to be experienced. A small storage area off the workshop is the only part of the house requiring artificial light during the day when used.
Appliances: Refrigerator and washing machine are designed for off-grid living, requiring less electricity and water than normal units.
Greenhouse Entry: We’ve had lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, lemon grass, onion, a variety of herbs and more growing here, often year round.
Gray-water system: Optionally feeds into a potential outdoor garden area.
Toilets: Composting and regular flush.
Composter: for kitchen scraps.
Cell Phone Service: Available through most providers.
Internet: available via satellite or wireless service.

All this with great neighbors (including a wealth of wildlife — elk, bear, deer, turkey and a plethora of other wild birds and small mammals).

View from the house to the East

View from the house to the Northwest
View from the back porch

To learn more about this unique property
call (575) 770-8247
or email Kerry (link above)