With the recent week of -40 degree weather, my thoughts have again turned to straw bale houses. I first discovered these creations a few months ago and was immediately impressed. If you’re not familiar with straw bale houses, here’s a quick run down.
The main idea is that the walls are not made of lumber, insulation, and gyprock. Instead there is a wood frame that is filled with straw bales and covered in plaster.
The main benefit of this type of structure is the amazing insulation that the straw bales provide. My house (where the temperature with the wind chill has reached -47 degrees this week) has R-20 in my walls. Straw bales would provide an insulation value of R-50 to R-60.
According to Strawbale.com, the energy savings of a straw bale house is about 75% over a traditional stick frame home. What that means in dollars and cents is this: Last year my heating bill was $778. If I had the same house, but built out of straw bales, my heating cost would have only been $194. That’s pretty impressive.
I love the sunken window and door frames, the rounded corners, and the imperfect surface.
If I build any major buildings in the future, I would love to build a straw bale structure. And of course, if I do, you’ll be the first to know!