Sustainable homes often feature high-tech bells and whistles but John Grzibowski’s clever house relies on the power of nature to keep it green. Located in Newburgh, NY, about an hour-and-a-half from NYC, the DIY earth-sheltered home strategically uses the surrounding landscape to insulate itself. Even more impressive, the spacious 1,500-square-foot structure, built on 4.7 wooded acres, was built using locally-sourced materials.
Although John says that he built the energy-efficient home “so a regular person can live here efficiently without lots of bells and whistles,” the earth-bermed structure has all the comforts of a contemporary home. Complete with three bedrooms, one-and-a-half baths, an open living room, a large kitchen and a dining room, the residence also boasts flooring made with wide plank oak cut from local trees that had fallen after a hurricane hit the area a few years ago. The low-level home is cradled by the surrounding earth for optimal insulation, minimalizing energy use as much as possible. Radiant floor heating is provided by an instant gas furnace, which also provides hot water.
Air conditioning is not necessary in the summer as the indoor temp doesn’t go above 73 degrees. In the winter months, the temps drop to about 45 degrees, but the wood stove provides most of the heating for the home. In fact, John says that he built the structure as a “shutdown house”, meaning no winterization was necessary. Everything in the home can be turned off and nothing will freeze in the frigid winter months. Last year, John spent about $250 on propane and 3 cords of wood. His electric bill runs about $60 per month.