Earth-Sheltered Living | God's World News
Earth-Sheltered Living
Take Apart SMART!
Posted: September 01, 2023
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    These dwellings are carved into a hillside in China. (Christoph Mohr/picture-alliance/dpa/AP)
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    A reconstruction of a Native American earth lodge in North Dakota (Sno Shuu)
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    The ancient city of Petra in Jordan included cave dwellings. (AP/Annedore Smith)
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    Sheep gather near traditional cave houses and barns in Lingshi County, Shanxi Province, China. (Meier & Poehlmann/CC BY 3.0)
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    U.S. settlers in the 1800s sometimes built sod houses. They used turf from the prairies when wood was scarce. (Library of Congress)
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Underground living isn’t just for hobbits and tourists. People have built earth-sheltered homes for centuries.

An earth-sheltered home is any house built mostly underground. As early as 2000 B.C., the people of China built yaodongs. Yaodong means “house cave.” The builders sometimes carved these homes into hillsides. Other times, they dug yaodongs straight down into the ground.

Early Native American tribes built earth lodges. They covered these raised structures in dirt and grass.

Why build a home underneath soil? For starters, dirt is inexpensive. (Hence the common phrase “dirt cheap.”) If you have land, you already have most of your earth-sheltered building supplies! Dirt-covered houses can blend into the landscape. You could hike over an earth-sheltered home and not even know it.

Earth-sheltered houses also help keep out heat and cold. Dirt acts as an insulator. That means it helps control extreme temperatures. You probably have insulation in the walls of your house. But it’s likely made of fiberglass—not dirt!

A well-insulated house helps conserve energy. It takes fuel or electricity to heat and cool a home. That’s one reason earth-sheltered houses are becoming more popular. They help people use less energy. That saves money. It’s also good for the environment. And it makes a home cozy.

Earth-sheltered homes also preserve nature. To build an underground house, you don’t need to dig up an entire meadow. You don’t have to level a hill. You fit your home right into the landscape.

The Bible tells us that God is our shelter. Earthly homes can protect us from heat and cold. But God keeps us safe all the time. He protects our going out and our coming in. (Psalm 121:8) He stays with us even when we leave our walls.

For more on underground living, see Dakota Dugout by Ann Turner and On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder in our Recommended Reading.