Earth Sheltered Plumbing
Even above ground homes are better with plumbing. Most plumbing doesn’t change too much when you take it underground. Low lying earth sheltered homes may have issues dealing with their elevation relative to sewer lines or septic beds. But I wouldn’t recommend earth sheltering at that depth. I would even advise against earth sheltering if you need a sump pump. Raise the floor level so you can drain to daylight instead.
From the plumbers perspective, an earth sheltered home is really just a slab on grade house. The plumbing is all put into the dirt below the slab. They can still use copper or pex, as long as the protect the copper when it goes thru the concrete (which they already know to do). The piping comes up under the vanity or kitchen closet and his hooked up without interfering with the walls. For the showers, you could furr in a false wood wall to hold the vertical plumbing, but in my case, I am just going to buck out a section and provide the plumber access thru the back of a closet on the other side of the wall.
However, in all cases, once the plumbers realized that it was an earth sheltered house with an unusual design, the fixed bids went up…
I will come back and add to this section on earth sheltered plumbing considerations later. For now I am just starting this page so I can put the Solar Hot Water section underneath it.
Solar Hot Water
Solar hot water is widely considered to be the best “bang for buck” in solar. Instead of trying to get photons to push electrons around, they just need to heat something up, which is something solar is very good (efficient) at. Solar hot water pairs well with earth sheltered mindset.
I broke this section out into a Solar Hot Water sub page…
Solar hot water can be used for radiant heating, but you need a large collector to do it properly. People who think they can use a few collector panels and heat their whole home should not expect to get more heat than they would get from a window of that size, actually less if you consider the system losses. Passive solar gain through a window is more effective and lower cost. I plan to use my radiant flooring to “redistribute” the heat from the sunny floors to the other rooms.
Don’t ask me why I am so interested in this topic since it is not particularly “earth sheltered”, but I decided to do the math and see how many gallons I could save with a flushless urinal… Well I could save many thousands of gallons, but since water pumped up from my well only costs about 25 cents per 1000 gallons, it doesn’t add up to much… Oh well, still interesting. This is on a sub page.