Saving Energy in a Log Home

February 20, 2012

Log home dwellers are the envy of many. Few can think of an idea more relaxing than kicking back inside of a warm log cabin on a secluded mountain somewhere. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, log cabins also provide owners assurance that living in such a home reduces their carbon footprint on Earth.

Estemerwalt Log Homes President Kurt Propst said having log and timber structures significantly reduces the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during construction of the home itself. When trees are cut down to be used for building, they retain carbon dioxide previously absorbed from the atmosphere. Likewise, logs and timber are renewable and biodegradable.

Despite the fact the structure of a log home itself is eco-friendly, there still are a number of ways log home owners can continue to work at saving energy in a log home. Simple energy-saving tips are often preached in the media, but for good reason – such habits can result in a pocketful of savings over a period of time.

John Wilder, a certified energy auditor and former contractor and DIY freelance writer, said log home owners should first inspect all chinking – the material that is used to fill the spaces between logs – to see if any gaps exist. This issue is one of the chronic ones with true log homes. “You have to periodically reinforce the chinking as the logs continue to shrink, opening up new gaps which allows air to move in and out of the cabin,” he said. “If you don’t, it drives your energy bill way up.”

He said the gaps can often be seen, but they are more easily detected by feeing a breeze through the log wall. While chinking used to consist of mud, clay, and straw, commercial versions are now made that use concrete and resins.

saving energy in a log home

Wilder also recommends putting a timer as well as an insulation blanket on hot water heaters, which saves consumers about $20 per month on their energy bill. Furthermore, using spray foam insulation in an attic can cut heating and cooling bills by as much as 50 percent.

Bob Kinney, Co-Founder of Town & Country Cedar homes and Town & Country Cedar Products, said log home owners should use an in-floor heating system if possible. Thermostat timers are also important to reduce heat usage both at night and when the occupants are away.

Propst said homeowners often overlook both insulation around the perimeter of a basement and proper caulking around doors and windows. In addition, large roof overhangs help log home owners benefit from solar energy. “They shade the direct sun during the hot summer months, but still allow in the sunlight during the winter months when the sun is lower and the light is directed into the cabin at a lower angle,” he said.

Finally, Propst, Wilder, and Kinney all recommend using Energy Star rated windows, doors, and appliances to be sure they are saving energy in a log home.

About the Author: Alyssa Zandi is an avid crafter, lifetime dog lover, and contributing blogger for michigancedarproducts.com. She can be found on Twitter at @alyssazandi. Image courtesy of Kurt Propst, Estemerwalt Log Homes.

Filed in: energy
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