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© Copyright 2014   |   Earth Sheltered Technology, INC. - All Rights Reserved   |   Phone: 1-800-345-7203   |   Email: est@earthshelteredtech.com   |   Address: P.O. Box 5142, Mankato, MN 56001

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Most Frequently Asked Questions

Energy Benefits

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1.  How much energy can the owner of a home designed by Earth Sheltered Technology expect to save?
Our homes have proven to save up to 80% in heating and cooling costs in many instances. The home will never drop to less than +50 degrees F, without heat, even in mid-winter, so you need never worry about a frozen pipe. Heating from +50 degrees F to +72 degrees F takes very little energy, and can be done with a very small heating unit.

2.  How does the building and construction costs compare with a conventional style home?
You will be surprised to find that our homes, with all of the many advantages over a conventional home, will cost no more than a medium priced home in your area and in most cases less. If you are thinking of building, be sure check the current lumber and material costs on conventional homes and then look into this unique structure that is virtually maintenance-free and will keep your family safe from most all perils.

3.  What kind of water-proofing system do you apply? Is there a drainage or gutter system to deal with run-off water?
We offer a triple layered water-proofing system that we have developed over the years that will allow us to offer a written warranty against leakage. It uses a layer of dry bentonite, a layer of heavy poly film, and capped off with an oversized heavy pond-liner as used for swimming pools. If it is going to leak, it will do so immediately.

4. How do you deal with mold and mildew build-up?
Mold and mildew are a result of excessive moisture in the home. Typically bathrooms and kitchens are the largest source of moisture and of course every breath you take adds some moisture to the air. An efficient air handling system is installed that circulates and exchanges the air, removing moisture and providing appropriate air changes for your home.

5.  How do you get enough light in your homes to avoid the "basement" feeling?
Unlike a flat ceiling as in a conventional home where a shadow is cast on the ceiling even on a bright sunny day, light actually bounces in our cathedral ceiling which eliminates the shadow and makes it lighter in our homes than it is in a conventional home.

6.  How do I go about finding a lot that is suitable?
Many people have the misconception that our homes must be built on a hill and must be south-facing. This really is not true, as the home can be built right on the flat and covered to give the proper geothermal effect. We can build the home to face north south, east or west, or any angle in between. The direction of facement will have some effect on the energy savings, however, even north facing homes will enjoy in excess of 50% energy savings in the winter months and considerably more in the hot summer months in savings on cooling. The benefit from having a hill or a slope would mean that you would use the excavated materials to cover the home. A hillside would also give you the benefit of a panoramic view of the existing countryside. Unbuildable lot?? Try us!!!

7.  Isn't an earth sheltered home a risky resale investment?
Realtors will tell you that they are, simply because they do not have one to sell you. Also in the past, earth sheltered homes were built by individuals with little or no technology or experience. They were often built with flat roofs using pre-stressed concrete or concrete block where you ended up with a multitude of "cold-joints." Each one is a possible leaker. Using our unique forming system, our homes are built with a cathedral ceiling. The entire structure is "poured-on-site" concrete in one continuous ,'monolithic" pour so that there are no "cold-joints" in the entire pour. People are simply amazed when they walk into one of our homes and see the amount of natural light, and how open the designs can be. We have revisited many of our homeowners, and have found none that would consider moving unless they were to move into another of our earth sheltered homes.

8.  How do you heat your earth sheltered homes? What options are there?
Approximately 85 to 90 percent of our home-owners heat with either a fireplace or woodburning stove with either a gas or electric back-up. However, they may be heated with natural gas, propane, electric heat, hot water heat, heat pump, or whatever. The heating unit needs only to be about 1/4 of the output of a conventional home.

9.  What kind of financing is available to build this type of home?
Financing has been very tough, however, we are making inroads because of the vast technological strides that we have made with our structures. At the present time, long term loans are available through VA, FHA, as well as the more up to date and aggressive local lending institutions that have taken time to tour our homes. Much still depends on the credibility of the borrower.

10. When building an earth sheltered home, why is a concrete structure recommended as opposed to a wood structure as offered by some competition?

  1. Untreated lumber will last less than 5 years.
  2. Treated lumber has not been used long enough to actually tell how long it lasts.
  3. Treated wood is treated with arsenic. In case of a fire one would die from the fumes rather than smoke inhalation or fire.
  4. So many companies are starting to treat lumber that the quality is suffering.
  5. Concrete does not reach its optimum strength until it ages for about 100 years.
  6. There are many claims about treated lumber that are unfounded. Only time will tell.

11.  What are some unique features that Earth Sheltered Technology offers that is different from their competitors?
No other earth sheltered structure offers the cathedral or domed structure, has built the first two story earth sheltered design with a domed or cathedral ceiling, has equaled our national awards for our designs, nor has the extensive experience and technology that we do, nor does anyone have the exotic form system that we have for the completion of these unique structures.

12.  Explain how these homes are insulated, including the covering materials.

  1. Three inches of polystyrene insulation is placed over the concrete on the exposed walls (where the doors and windows are).
  2. We fill the valleys between the mods and then put up to 6 inches of insulation over the entire top and then 3 more feet of dirt over that. We use no urethane or batting whatsoever.
  3. By following the above methods, we have no cold spots in the structure anywhere.

These are only a few of the most commonly asked questions. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us!!!

Our homes have so many advantages that it is hard to name them all. The biggest advantage is perhaps the energy efficiency. Our homes will never drop below 50 to 55 degrees F in mid-winter with absolutely no heat other than the passive solar and the natural heat from the ground.


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We have built custom homes for satisfied customers around the country. Click on the photo above to see photos of a number of our custom homes.