There are over 6,000 underground homes in the USA and similar structures have appeared in Switzerland, the Greek Isles, Stockholm, Australia and the UK.
Benefits of an underground home, AKA earth-sheltered homes, include coolness in summer, cozyness in winter, natural soundproofing, resistance to extreme weather and fires and enhanced security. Couple this with adequate solar paneling and you may be free of energy bills altogether plus your carbon footprint will vanish.
Heating and cooling accounts for more than half of the energy use in a typical home, making it the largest energy expense for most. Earth-sheltered systems utilize solar and geothermal resources which come minus the ongoing expense of traditional options.
Earth-sheltered structures are up to 90% more energy efficient than a conventional home built to today’s standards. The key principle that gives earth-sheltered homes their utility and viability is thermal mass. The earth’s capacity to store heat for a long period of time is quite impressive.
It is the ground’s thermal mass properties that explain the consistent warm-to-moderate temperatures we find when we move just a few feet down below the surface. The earth’s temperature fluctuates very little, allowing the home to hold a consistent, comfortable temperature year round. The house itself is the energy system. Windows are the collectors, roof, walls, and floor are the storage; and the earth is the protector and moderator.
Burrowing is fast becoming popular as a more passive remedy to our dwindling greenspace and Mother Nature’s depleting resources because, besides the lower costs, underground homes can be built almost anywhere, whether near a hill, or on totally flat ground.
Many different styles of home are available including caves, earth berm, rammed earth, urban, shafts, tunnels and previously disused properties can be transformed into new accommodation such as an abandoned underground nuclear missile silo and a Sussex cement works. Advocates say they are the perfect blend of nature, architecture, fashion and function.