Welcome to my Walden: This load-bearing straw bale house was built by me, Carolyn Roberts, consultant Jon Ruez, and many friends on evenings and weekends, using natural (straw bale walls, earthen plasters, earthen floor) and recycled materials wherever possible. We passed 23 county inspections. It’s an incredibly sturdy, beautiful and well-insulated house that will last for many years and only cost $50,000 to build (land not included). The straw walls offer insulation from the summer heat, while the earthen plasters and floor give thermal mass to maintain an even interior temperature. A well-insulated ceiling helps, too. The south-facing sunroom heats my home in the winter. I can collect 500 gallons of rainwater in a 1/2 inch rain. A hand-made solar water heater with a small tankless heater as backup provides all my hot water. My electric bills average $35 per month year-round, with no solar panels. Many people thought I was crazy, but this is by far the wisest thing I have ever done, though possibly the most difficult.  (A House of Straw)