Earth Science

What are Earth Sheltered Homes and What are Their Benefits?

An Earth sheltered home found in Switzerland.

The nature of human housing has evolved drastically since our earliest days. From living in caves, to mud and straw huts, to wooden and stone homes, to the grand skyscrapers we see today. This evolution is still going on of course, as is common with nearly every aspect of human life. And what is really interesting about it is that in recent decades, we seem to have come full circle back to houses that resemble our ancestors’ homes.

We are talking about the so-called Earth sheltered homes. The concept came about in the 1970’s, and it has gone on from there to produce some truly spectacularly stunning houses. However, you might not know about these types of houses, or may only have a very basic understanding. So, let’s take a brief look at what exactly an Earth sheltered home entails, how they came to be, and what the pros and cons of such houses are in case the idea intrigues you enough to want to own one of your own.

What Exactly are Earth Sheltered Homes? 

What Exactly are Earth Sheltered Homes

Earth sheltered homes are quite like caves, in that they are set into the Earth itself. However, unlike caves, you are unlikely to find an Earth sheltered home set into the side of a rocky mountain. Instead, Earth sheltered homes typically surround almost all sides with soil or vegetation. This gives them the look of being set into the ground, as opposed to a mountainous wall. The only visible bit of the house’s exterior is usually the front, where the main entrance lies.

Some History of These Sheltered Homes 

Some History of These Sheltered Homes

Earth sheltered housing, despite its recent popularity in some circles, is not exactly a new concept. It actually dates back quite a bit; to almost 15,000 B.C. However, naturally, back then these homes were much simpler in their construction than they are today. At that time, these houses would be simple dug out holes in earthy landmasses, with some supporting scaffolding peeking out the front.

In the first half of the 1970’s, the world faced an oil crisis. Before this particular crisis, Earth sheltered housing had seen a very marginal increase in popularity; with a very few select figures pondering and experimenting on how best to integrate this archaic method of housing into modern times. When the oil crisis hit, a much larger group of the population started to think about returning to the old ways, and constructing communities around the idea of self sufficiency and making use of Mother Nature. It was this time period that saw Earth sheltered housing experience a boom in popularity, and some proponents of this method of sheltering rise.

In recent years, though Earth sheltered homes have seen a relatively large jump in popularity, it still remains a rare method of housing when compared to other, more conventional means. There are a few different types of Earth sheltered houses that can be constructed; bermed housing that has earth piled against the walls in a slope, in-hill housing that is the most reminiscent of caves and sees houses being set into the walls of hills, and underground housing that, as the name clearly implies, is simply housing constructed inside dug out, hollow ground. A handful of other, less popular methods also exist, and are primarily used in other countries.

The Advantages of Earth Sheltered Homes 

The Advantages of Earth Sheltered Homes

So, why exactly do some people choose to live in Earth sheltered homes when other, much more conventional types of housing are available for almost always cheaper? For one, Earth sheltered housing appeals to people who are really serious about reducing their negative impact on the planet. Earth sheltered homes integrate much better into the environment, and drastically reduce any impact on the local ecosystem.

Another advantage to Earth sheltered homes is the fact that they barely require cooling or heating systems to maintain ideal temperatures across the interior space. This is because the encompassing surrounding walls of earth do a brilliant job of regulating the temperatures inside them. This way, not only do you cut down on your power bills, but doing so also reduces your carbon footprint on the planet as you consume less power overall.

Furthermore, the integration of an Earth sheltered home into its surrounding environment means that it deals with natural weather phenomena much better than traditional housing. For example, instead of draining away rainwater to a sewage system, the earthen roof and walls of the house absorb and distribute the rainwater into the soil instead. And, naturally, fierce weather phenomena pose little to no threat to your Earth sheltered home due to its un-intrusive nature relative to the environment. In fact, the only real disadvantage of going for an Earth sheltered home is that it initially costs a bit more to be constructed than a traditional house. But this initial extra expense is quickly made up for due to the money you save in power bills and the relatively low amount of maintenance a properly constructed Earth sheltered home needs.

Conclusion

Earth sheltered homes are still a bit of a novelty, and are really made for the environmentally conscious of you, but can be well worth the investment if you think the reduced impact on the planet is worth your time and money. And hey, maybe you just want an Earth sheltered home purely because of its aesthetics, because what’s not to love about living inside the Earth itself. While you make up your mind, why not read up on some other interesting stuff? Scientific facts about birds perhaps? Or maybe the fascinating concept of Singularity in Artificial Intelligence.

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