Advantages of Partially Submerged Houses
Environmentally friendly families often convert their houses to run more efficiently, or use heating and recycling devices to limit their damage to the planet. One of the more extreme methods of living in environmentally friendly houses is to move into a custom built partially submerged house. These houses are built into the sides of hills, or partially underground, so that they can harness the natural geothermic energy of the house. While there are not very many of these houses available at present, they may become more popular as people become more concerned about their energy consumption. There are a few different types of partially submerged houses, and each one is designed to have slightly different advantages.
Earth Sheltered Buildings
Some of these geothermic houses are called Earth Sheltered buildings. They're designed to passively store heat within the walls using insulation made from polystyrene and polythene (in some cases), which stores heat from the building itself, the residents, electrical equipment and any radiant warmth from the sun. Solar heat gain is a particular advantage of Earth Sheltered houses. They use larger glazed windows to collect this extra heat, and then shutters which prevent the loss of heat during the night. Most eco-damaging heat sources can be eliminated in these buildings, due to the method of storing heat. Earth sheltered homes also have the advantage that they do not stick out in the landscape, unlike wind towers and other energy sources. They can also benefit wildlife by encouraging grasslands and vegetation to grow on the roof.
Partially submerged buildings can be built by digging into hills, and building part of the house within that excavation. This is becoming popular in desert areas, where heat fluctuations often mean that the building needs a constant supply of energy. Partially burying the structure within the hills limits the extreme changes in temperature. They can also be built to ensure maximum solar heating, which can be stored in a similar way to the earth sheltered buildings. Additional features of hill built houses include earthen insulated walls surrounding them, which helps to limit changes in temperature. This has been likened to the effect of underground earth upon a basement.
A new idea in the field of energy-saving by constructing houses in the ground is the notion of the partially submerged water-based house. This involves taking ideas from Hawaii and other islands around the world, where a wave energy conversion system is placed in the sea, or by the shore in shallow water. Other versions include the oscillating water column device, which work inland. The house is built to be connected to these water-powered devices, which then generate electricity using hydropower. Using a reservoir, a house can be built into the side of the water-powered machines, and thereby run off of the power created. Inland technology could also use dams and pools of water in a similar fashion.