'Earthships' in the Desert Save Owners Cash


Addressing People's Needs

Earthships aren't cheap -- they cost about the same to build as a traditional house. They range from about $100,000 for smaller models, to $1.5 million for the Phoenix. (Reynolds admits he priced it high, primarily because he's ambivalent about selling). But many owners, like Alix and David Henry, save money by doing some or most of their own construction. The Henrys outgrew their one-bedroom earthship when daughter Helen was born. They've added on to make room for their larger family.

Like Mike Reynolds, Alix Henry is an architect. She said her parents used to think she was crazy for living in an Earthship -- until utility costs skyrocketed.

"My mom actually commented about what a good position we're in," Alix Henry said, "because we don't have any utility (payments) and we don't have a mortgage, so a lot of what's going on in the world is not affecting us."

If Mike Reynolds has his way, whole of subdivisions these unusual structures would be built all across the United States and around the world. They're already in Europe, in other cities across the United States, on the Caribbean island of Bonaire, and, most recently, in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, providing an efficient way of recycling the rubble there. Reynolds and his team go back to Haiti in January 2011 to install systems in the house they built earlier this year.

In response to those who view these unusual and unconventional homes as strange, Reynolds points to that $100 a year utility bill, as well as all the junk salvaged from landfills that go into creating Earthships.

"We're addressing the garbage issue, we're addressing the water issue, we're addressing the energy issue, heating and cooling, housing, and food," Reynolds said. "All of the things that people need, we're addressing them now."

ABC News' Charles Herman contributed to this report.

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