With every flick of a light switch, turn of a bath, tap, or shower handle, and flush of a toilet, we are gobbling up vast amounts of electricity and water, far more than we need. But, there may be a solution. Sustainable homes are on the rise, and many have special features to combat wasteful use of energy and water.
Earthships are self-sufficient and constructed by mixing soil with recycled materials. These innovative homes can generate their electricity and water and on their own by using solar panels or windmills and collecting rainwater. They also maintain a comfortable temperature year-round without the need for central heating or air conditioning by having a wall of windows on one side of the house to capture the heat and light of the sun, while the rest of the structure is packed in a mound of soil and recycled materials to keep the air from getting too hot.
Some people opt to live in straw bale homes, but don’t worry, they aren’t flimsy like the one in “The Three Little Pigs.” The walls of these homes are constructed by piling bales of straw and then covering them with plaster so they look like the walls of any other home. The difference is that the straw is an effective insulator that helps regulate the home’s temperature, so less energy is needed to heat and cool it.
Bermed homes, also called hobbit homes, have soil covering one or more walls and sometimes the roof, so they blend into the surrounding landscape. It’s a great way to keep the place cool—anyone who’s ever explored a cave or climbed down into a basement knows the air gets a lot cooler because of the natural insulation provided by the soil. But fear not, because a bermed house doesn’t feel like a creepy basement. Its front wall, which usually faces south, is exposed and has lots of glass to absorb the sun’s light and heat, and since hobbit homes are so sheltered, they’re protected from hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Not everyone is ready to move into a sustainable house, but the are still many other ways to increase the efficiency of our own homes, just search it up!