No matter the climate, an Earthship will sustain comfortable temperatures. Our planet has two sources for temperature: the sun and the planet itself. The sun is similar to a nuclear power plant source, while the planet is a thermal stabilizing mass that is able to distribute temperatures.
Each climate around the globe is different. Therefore, designs are customized to work together with the different climate sources.
Surface weather determines the temperature of the first few feet of our planet. It can heat up or cool off as needed. However, once you reach approximately five feet below the surface or more, there is a more regulated temperature. Usually this temperature is around 58 degrees. If you design your dwelling with this in mind, the earth can help regulate or cool off the building.
An Earthship works with both the sun and the earth, allowing the dwelling to sustain comfortable temperatures no matter where the building is located. Earthships use very little, if any, fossil fuels.
When you want to add warmth to your dwelling, an Earthship uses the sun to heat the mass (ie the foundation) and store the warmth. Insulation is used to prevent the heat from escaping. The larger the mass is, the larger the volume of space for storage. When the sun isn’t available, the foundation emits heat into cooler portions of the dwelling.
When you want cooler temperatures, the process is to block out the sun and use the earth to cool down the dwelling. This works by the mass of the Earthship connecting with the cool mass of the planet, five feet or more below the surface. The cooler temperatures are absorbed into the mass and trickle into the dwelling. Think of it like hooking up a smaller battery and a larger one, except the planet (big) and the Earthship (small) are the storage batteries.
Throughout the years, insulation has shown it can help to maintain temperatures, although it neither stores, collects, nor produces temperature. Insulation is used to prevent the heat or cold air from leaking out of or into a space.
A good insulation contains millions of small pockets of air. This causes the temperatures to slow their movement by creating more areas of air space to pass through before reaching an unhindered dense mass.
A dense mass can store and collect temperatures. There are a wide variety of materials these masses can be made out of: cement, stone or even water. Dense simply means the material has very little air space within it. The higher the density the more temperature it will hold. The density is the conduit for temperature.