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An Introduction to Earthships

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An Introduction to Earthships

By Kevin Stevens, Networx

Imagine a home that heats and cools itself without the need of a furnace or AC unit: one that produces its own zero-emissions supply of electricity, and is not dependent on a municipal source for water. This kind of home also processes all of its wastewater locally, and can even grow a quantity of its occupant’s food. Additionally, the home is built with local and recycled waste products, and it can be built with basic low-tech labor. Does this sound like the ideal home of a space age future?  Believe it or not, these homes exist today (many have been built by builders in New Mexico) and have been in existence for over 30 years.  This type of home is called an “Earthship” and it exhibits all of these features and more.

Heat and Cooling Naturally

Earthships are homes built with passive solar design principles. During the cool winter months, low angled sunlight enters the home and warms the floors and walls. Exterior and load bearing walls are constructed from a “core” of up-cycled tires and rammed earth.  This high thermal mass core is covered with concrete or earthen-based plasters for a smooth and cosmetically appealing surface. The mass of the walls and structure “absorb” the sun’s heat, this heat is stored in the mass walls and is then released back into the living space after the sun sets. In summer, the cool base temperature of the earth around the home provides natural cooling. This is supplemented with convective air flow and skylight vents.

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Networx.com empowers people to make educated, economical and Earth-friendly renovation and home repair choices. We are a community of homeowners, renters and contractors who are committed to sharing home improvement expertise and experience.

61 comments

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9:51AM PDT on Mar 21, 2013

Me and my boyfriend lives in Sweden and would love to build our own earthship one day. Lets go back to nature=)

10:44AM PDT on Oct 2, 2012

I would so love to live in a home like this...this is definitely on my list of goals in life! All new housing should be designed like this, but the government would just hate for us to live without paying taxes and with so much freedom!

6:29PM PDT on Jul 6, 2012

Love these!

12:52AM PDT on Jun 7, 2012

Sorry, I meant TWENTY years ago! V

12:42AM PDT on Jun 7, 2012

Thirty years ago I read about these homes and was very exited by the possibilities of energy independence and being able to build with recycled materials, basically throw away's like tires, cans and bottles. I liked the look being freeform and knew I could build it myself with help. I visited the earthship community in Taos and took a three week construction course which was an awesome experience! I went into a home built for Dennis Weaver (actor) in February with 2 feet of snow on the ground at about 8,000 ft elevation and as soon as I walked in, I took off my coat and was very comfortable, even though no one had been there for weeks to manage the temp. in any way. There were TOMATOES growing just inside the windows and it was amazingly beautiful inside!! Built on a steep mountainside the back walls were solid rock!!! It was AWESOME!! Long story short, I never was able to build my earthship but they are very cool and for the right folks, totally doable. A southern sun exposure and south facing slope make it easier but flat ground can work too.

7:05PM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

This is something I could live in harmony with. And so could many others. What a great system!

5:53AM PDT on Jun 6, 2012

neat!

10:06AM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

I have seen these types of homes while looking for environmentally
Friendly homes. I would love to know much more about them

7:24PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

thanks....

4:11PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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