The short answer is yes! Questions about the energy efficiency of log homes are very common from prospective buyers. According to the International Log Builder’s Association, log homes are very efficient because of the thermal mass of the logs. Just like a conventional home other materials and the design used will also affect the energy efficiency of your home or cabin.
When it comes to the materials a key factor to determine how efficient they are is the thermal mass of the materials. Thermal mass is a term used to indicate the amount of heat or energy a material can hold. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, logs have a very high thermal mass which means they are able to absorb a tremendous amount of heat, store it, and radiate it back over time. In the winter this makes the home more energy efficient and will positively impact heating costs. To learn more about heating a log home see our next blog post Keeping the Cabin Warm.
Materials are also judged on their thermal resistance measured in R-value. As Energy.gov writes “Logs act like ‘thermal batteries’ and can, under the right circumstances, store heat during the day and gradually release it at night. This generally increases the apparent R-value of a log.” This ability will give a well-designed and built log home a higher R-value than a conventional home.
The logs aren’t the only materials in your home though, keep in mind the type of electrical work that you want in your home. What types of electrical appliances, entertainment, and lighting will you have in your home? All of these things will affect your home’s energy usage. You may also want to consider having natural energy producers like solar panels integrated into the design of your home. While these options will increase the building cost of your home, they offer long-term energy savings.
Having a smart design will greatly increase the energy efficiency in any home. A home with lots of windows, doors and skylights will raise utility bills, unless you use proven solar design and glazings. For example, north-facing glass is usually a source of major heat loss.
An efficient log home design uses logs at least 8 inches thick with a foam gasket system installed between the logs. The size of the logs plays a great role in the amount of heat it will be able to absorb. The thicker the logs are, the more heat it will be able to store and deflect. Thinner logs will allow more energy to pass through the wood to unwanted areas.
Log homes or cabins can be very energy efficient as long as you have the right materials and design.
Contact us or post a comment if you have any questions about the energy efficiency of log homes, we’d love to have a chat with you.