Not all energy efficient and eco-friendly homes are going to include the latest technologies. In fact, we can gain a lot from older building technologies and methods and apply them to our new eco-friendly building methods. Earth homes are some of the most energy-efficient homes known on earth because of their ability to be affordable and energy efficient. It's a lot like the Hobbit homes you've seen in the movies or on TV, maybe even online. A little house or cottage nestled into the hillside may look quite rudimentary, but it's actually very sustainable and eco-friendly. Some of these homes are even open to visitors, including the Keldur Turf Houses in South Iceland. Turf houses or Sod houses are very common in Iceland, and they are very sustainable and eco-friendly too. The Keldur Turf Houses are the oldest turf houses in Iceland. It's also one of the only preserved turf houses in South Iceland. Some of the other ones are at Austur-Meðalholt, now a museum, and at Skógar there are also some nicely preserved turf homes. THe Keldur turf homes date back to the 900s.
These turf houses were rebuilt in the 1800s after some earthquakes hit and were restored to their original quality. Keldur is also close to Helka, a volcano which lava rocks were used from for building the farmstead there. When people aren't living in these turf homes, they tend to get really cold and damp inside due to the absence of a fire keeping it warm. So to preserve these homes, a drying system is needed to keep the warm and dry. They are also built into the hillside, which makes them weather-resistant. There are only two types of underground home including this one which would be considered underground and then there is bermed which means that a portion of the home is in the earth while a lot of it is built above ground. An earth-sheltered, green roof home will typically have the least impact on the land, and it's also almost zero when it comes to producing waste.
The Umbrella home is another innovative underground home style that is sustainable and efficient. The name refers to the umbrella of earth cover that surrounds the home, protecting it from the elements and thermoregulating the interior of the home. The home will have a dome structure built inside of the earth with layers of different insulation to provide a barrier for the home from the outside world. This way, the home is able to maintain a temperature of 66°F to 74°F inside year-round without the use of heating equipment. And that's in one of the colder climates in the United States in western Montana which can reach pretty cold temperatures in the winter. Then, in the summer, the solar heat radiates in and then is absorbed into the soil that the home is encapsulated in. The umbrella captures the heat until winter when it's released into the home slowly.
Even homes that are partially built into a hillside or a slope are going to reap the benefits of the thermoregulating abilities of the soil. If you're interested in building an earth home like one of these yourself, you can draw some inspiration from these concepts and ideas and then take them into account when it comes to your own building project. There are many earth building books out there that show how it's done, and there are also courses and workshops that you can take to learn more about these amazing building techniques. Some companies even offer building kits to make building these earth homes even easier.
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