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Earth Sheltered Homes

During periods of time when oil and other heating source fuels are scarce, there is an interest in earth sheltered homes. And, they are once again growing in popularity. People are learning that it's not like living in a bunker or a cave - you can have most of the conveniences you enjoy now, and still be a friend of the Earth.

Earth sheltered home

Earth sheltered homes include those that are virtually unseen at the surface, as well as those with a façade as lovely as any found on conventional homes.

When you shelter your home, your cooling and heating costs are usually less than half as much as they would cost in a conventional home. In addition, they don't usually cost much more to build.

America uses a great deal of energy, even if we are close to being eclipsed by countries like China for the dubious honor of top energy user. It's important to consider energy efficiency in all aspects of your life, including not just the car you drive, but also the home you live in. Being Eco-friendly and going Green when choosing your housing type can make a big difference in your use of fossil fuels.

Earth Sheltered Houses

Earth-berm homes have almost the same energy efficiency as homes that are built fully underground. In addition, their roof is made of earth, which gives the house a greener footprint. Having walls that are earth-sheltered along with living roofs allows homes to have less of a negative impact on their surroundings.

The land that is used for earth-sheltered homes can also be reclaimed "marginal" land, which is not used for anything else. By taking property that doesn't serve a farming purpose and returning it to its natural green scape, you will give the area a more natural appeal. Building homes in caves and gravel pits allows you to take lifeless areas and fill them with green life once again.

Earth Berm Home Plan

Them 50's ...

Earth is a good insulator and is a very good capacitor as well. This means that it absorbs and stores heat, especially when wet. It can store heat and coolness, which makes these homes more comfortable, year round. In most regions, the earth 4 feet deep and below is in the range of 50 - 55 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. You gotta like the 50's.

There are two types of thermal masses that work together in homes that are sheltered by earth. The mass of the earth is not something that you can control, but the mass of the building is well within your control. Building a home at a specific depth in the soil will allow it to have more moderate temperature fluctuations. Earth-berm houses built in northern states can have the climate of houses in southern states.

Comedian and Actor Steve Martin's Earth Berm Home

But, Wait, There's More ...

Using the earth for shelter helps not in just heating your home, but in cooling it as well. At the normal building depths, which may range from six to eight feet for a one story dwelling, the air is comfortable in nearly all parts of all seasons. The narrow range associated with the temperatures in earth-sheltered homes helps not just in winter heating, but in summer cooling, as well.

Written by Kevin Knatloa

First Published on November 05, 2012

Updated February 10, 2015