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Underground houses are becoming a popular trend for today. Houses built beneath or into the earth create a fuel savings that can't be beat. Especially when you take into consideration that the temperature of the earth they are buried in stays remarkably close to 53 degrees all year round.
Subsurface structures are heated comfortably by the earth that surround them and with the use of skylights can provide a wonderful atmosphere to live in. Many have sunken courtyards and above ground panels that deflect the sun down light shafts. A variation of this is a structure built into the side of a hill. This type of structure leases a wall exposed to the sunlight and provides a view. Even more popular today is the two story home buried half in the earth. Many of these have sunken courtyards with greenhouses that are used like solar collectors to offset the fossil fuel heating systems. In winter months these homes extract heat by using a heat pump from a buried air pipe. During summer months, cool air is pumped the same way.
The basis for the design of log supported underground home came for the Navaho hogan. In these structures logs rest on footings of stone to form the roof as well. A mixture of pumice and earth cover the house. Asphalt paint is used as a vapor barrier, while stucco protects the logs from moisture.
One of the draw backs of underground homes is the cave like atmosphere. Most people prefer lots of windows and sunlight. Another problem is keeping the erosion of the earth covering the house in check. This is easily done by planting grass and shrubs that keep the soil stable. Underground homes must be stable enough to bear a heavy load of earth pressing down on the structure. This has cause many people to shy away due to their concerns about cave ins. Also, extra effort must be made to keep underground homes dry. Condensation accumulates creating a dampness inside. This problem is much like the one people who have basements encounter. A large dehumidifier will usually solve this problem.