14 Self Sustaining Earthship Homes
An important part of survival prepping is sustainability. To be truly ready for disaster on any scale, you must be prepared to provide your family with food and shelter. Ideally you are able to generate your own power and heat, collect your own water and process your waste. An Earthship home is designed to do all of this. It collects and recycles water, generates power, stabilizes temperatures, processes sewage and grows food.
Sound too good to be true? It gets better. These homes are built almost entirely from recycled materials. The designs have been adapted to suit nearly any climate on the planet. You can purchase Earthship building plans and do it yourself, or hire out a professional team who can put one up in about a month. Here are 15 Earthship images to get you excited about sustainable living.
1. Brighton Earthship Home
Earthships are passive solar homes. They use slanted panes of south facing glass to direct sunlight into the house and warm the internal space. More importantly, they are thermal mass homes. Each Earthship is partially buried in the ground for extra insulation. The main framework of the home is recycled tires filled with dirt. These tires absorb and hold the sun’s energy.
The combination of passive solar and thermal mass keeps the internal temperature of an Earthship right around 70° F, regardless of the season. Even when its below zero and snowing outside, your home will be toasty warm with no heating system.
2. Earthship Home in the Desert
Earthship homes are especially well suited to dry climates because they are so efficient at recycling water. Water is collected in a rain catchment system, and then used four times in the home:
1. Water is pumped through a filter panel into a pressure tank where it is used like normal city water in the home.
2. Grey water feeds greenhouse plants (for food) and is filtered by the root systems.
3. Filtered grey water is run through the toilets.
4. Sewage is processed naturally and used to feed additional gardens outdoors.
3. Earthship Home Under Construction
This is the framework for an Earthship under construction. The main building material is recycled tires, which are available at low prices all over the world. Tires are the perfect material for providing the thermal mass an Earthship needs to hold warmth from the sun. Notice how the home is dug partially into the earth to take advantage of the additional insulation.
4. Michael Reynolds, Earthship Designer
Michael Reynolds is the man who conceived of and built the original Earthship. His company, Earthship Biotecsure, has been designing and building these self-sustaining homes for over 45 years. They offer a variety of earth ship home plans. You can also hire his team to come build your Earthship anywhere on the planet.
5. Preparing the Tire Walls for an Earthship
Many Earthship home owners build their houses themselves. The plans are very clear and are designed for amateur builders to understand. Be advised that packing earth into the tires is arduous work and takes many long hours. You may decide the cost of labor is worth it in the end!
6. Massive Earthship Home
This image shows several views of a huge Earthship. You can see how the greenhouse is integrated into the living space. You literally just walk down the hall to collect veggies for dinner.
The plans for an Earthship can be adjusted to any size you like. But keep in mind the additional costs. Depending on which model you choose, and Earthship generally runs between $135-$300 per square foot including plans, labor and materials.
7. Inside an Earthship
The large glass windows for the passive solar double as a greenhouse. You can create nice nooks and pathways through this space to create a comfortable, integrated living area. Imagine sitting at the table watching the snow outside while your tomatoes and cucumbers are growing happily nearby. With constant warm temperatures you can even grow plants like bananas and oranges in a cold northern region.
8. Texas Earthship
An Earthship is entirely off the grid. It uses a combination of solar and wind power to generate all the electricity an average family will consume. Each Earthship relies on a series of photovoltaic cells to store energy and supply the home.
9. Earthship Kitchen
Earthships are designed to be comfortable self sustaining homes. Many people are afraid to live off the grid or in any sort of “alternative” housing because they don’t want to give up comfort.
In an Earthship you don’t have to sacrifice quality of life for sustainability. As this beautiful kitchen demonstrates, with an Earthship you can have it all.
10. Entrance to an Earthship
The combination of large glass windows for the passive solar and active solar panels make an Earthship look a bit odd. They are certainly a far cry from a traditional home. With a bit of creativity many Earthship owners capitalize on the distinct look of their homes by designing outside features to match. This yard and entrance look positively space-age.
11. How an Earthship Works
This diagram shows all the different integrated systems in an Earthship. As you can see the Earthship uses a variety of techniques to manage each system. Power is supplied by both solar and wind. Rain water is collected in a cistern and recycled through the house, but there is a pressure tank so you don’t have to suffer through a weak shower. The idea is to be sustainable without sacrificing comfort. Earthships have achieved this goal in a particularly creative fashion.
12. Recycled Earthship
One of the central concepts to building an Earthship is recycling. It must be made primarily from recycled or natural materials, starting with the tires. Other items commonly used in the building are tin and aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Earth is an important part of the structure as it is naturally insulating.
13. European Earthship Home
In addition to be a self sufficient home for the family living in it, each Earthship is a step towards sustainability for an entire community. By processing sewage on site using plants and natural filters, an Earthship avoids polluting the aquifer. If everyone used a similar system, there would be no need for public waste lines or treatment plants.
14. Small Earthship Home
Most of the images we’ve looked at so far show large, rather extravagant Earthships. But they don’t have to be huge or expensive. This is a small Earthship, but it has all the same sustainable systems in place.
On average, and Earthship costs about the same as a conventional home of similar size. They are faster to build. But keep in mind, you will never have to pay an electric bill again. If you are considering building a home, an Earthship could be a great option. Imagine only having a mortgage to pay, no utilities. And you don’t have to care if the electric grid goes out or the city faces water shortages.