Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Earth Sheltered Homes

So, like many people, the hubby and I have a dream. Not a Martin Luther King Jr. kind of dream, but one which is very dear to us none the less: our very own earth sheltered home.  I like to plan it out or look at pictures online when I am having a bad day.  My husband wants one because he thinks they are awesome, and because he loves the Lord of the Rings books.  He wants a hobbit house - much like the one pictured on the right.  However, he also wants our dream home to be quite sizable. In short, he wants a giant hobbit house (did I mention that he is 6'7"?) with few to no ecologically redeeming characteristics.  At first I thought the whole idea was really stupid.  I mean, seriously, a hobbit house?  But then I started looking into earth sheltered homes, and I learned a few things.

Photo N
When built with an eye towards efficiency, earth sheltered homes can dramatically reduce your energy needs.  For example, homes built in this style rarely get colder than 50 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer than 70 degrees Fahrenheit on their own.  This means you will never need air-conditioning, and you should only have to heat your home 20 or so degrees in the winter time (as opposed to the more common 50-70 degrees).  This is a huge energy savings. With the rising prices and uncertainty surrounding most kinds of fuels (as well as their negative impact on the environment) this is a major advantage.
Earth sheltered and earth bermed homes have a higher resistance to damage or destruction from hurricanes, tornadoes  and earthquakes. The energy savings and relative resilience of the home to natural disasters makes it ideal for those looking for a higher level of self reliance and being farther off the grid.  People commonly pair earth sheltered homes with solar or wind power systems which, when implemented correctly, can often meet all of their energy needs.

Earth sheltered homes last longer than traditionally built homes, are more cost effective to build, and many of them are actually quite modern and attractive. I am intrigued by an atrium design (below on the left) or a two story in hill side design (below on the right).  Now I just have to convince my husband that a 5000 sq ft earth sheltered home would be a monstrosity.  Oh, and save enough money to actually build one. Click here to see more of my eco-friendly alternatives.

Riverview Home Design
Keywords:  Earth sheltered homes, eco-homes, sod houses, hobbit houses

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