Berm Houses Are Energy Efficient and Positively Beautiful

Energy saving and practical, earth bermed homes are a great choice.


(indykb /

Earth bermed or sheltered homes come in many shapes and sizes. What they all have in common is that the homes use the earth as natural insulation. The rest is up to your imagination.

Homes can be partially bermed where earth is built up around the house or built directly into a hillside. What is important to know is that they are not underground homes like the ones found in environmentally extreme climates. They are also not hobbit like burrows, in fact, earth sheltered homes can be as luxurious as Bill Gate's Xananadu.

Like any other building style, berm houses have advantages and disadvantages. The biggest plus is climate control. The homes are less susceptible to the impact of extreme weather; cold or hot. It is more efficient to heat and cool and that translates to energy cost savings; as much as 60-85 percent.

Berm homes are also cheaper to maintain. Pipes are underground so there is no chance of pipes freezing in cold climates. And, since the homes are made of stronger waterproof materials, there are less maintenance issues.

Some homes are constructed of concrete masonry, but they can be made of wood and look like typical home construction. Windows and skylights can be arranged to let in maximum light. If the home has a southern exposure, that’s even better because the sun can use the sun to naturally heat the home.

Earth is a good sound reducer so bermed homes, especially if they are built into hills, can be much quieter and more serene. The homes are also safer from high winds and natural disasters like tornados. With our climate bringing so many weather extremes, this can be very comforting.

There are also some cons to consider. The drawback to earth sheltered homes is the initial cost of building which can run as much as 20 percent more in some places. If the home is less traditional looking, it may be harder to get a mortgage or to resell. Humidity can also be a concern, during the home's construction and over the life of the house but careful planning can keep this from becoming a problem.

People have lived in earth sheltered homes since the dawn of man. With today's technology berm houses are an excellent choice for an environmentalist