Energy efficiency is an important factor to consider when buying or building any home. When it comes to log homes, there are many factors that will affect the efficiency. With energy prices climbing every year and many states implementing stricter energy codes, many people reach out to us with questions regarding the efficiency of log homes. In this article we will breakdown everything you need to know about the efficiency of log homes.
Are log homes energy efficient?
The answer will very depending on many factors such as long thickness, chinking material, amount of windows, location of the the log home, and more. The most general answer is yes. Full logs hold their temperature very well and can have an R-Value of R-14. Logs under 10 inches in width will decrease in energy efficiency and most likely require an interior insulation.
What is R-Value and why is it important?
R-Value is referred to a material’s resistance to heat flow or thermal resistance. Each material has its own R-Value for example: softwood, hardwood, insulation, windows, wallboard… ect. These R-Values are then calculated together to determine the R-Value of the wall. For example adding a window to a wall may increase or decrease the total R-Value of a wall. R-Value is important because in most states there are requirements that you have to meet on a new build. Very often the minimum recommended R-Value is R-14. Some places are recommending an R-Value as high as R-30.
How to calculate the R-Value and what is the R-Value of a log home.
R-Value for wood is calculated by multiplying the wood’s given R-Value by inches wide. For example the R-Value of Pine is 1.35. Pine is one of the most common woods used for log homes. A six inch log would give you R-8 (1.35 x 6). This is a pretty low R-Value and typically would require insulation on the interior for more efficiency. Some states have passed laws that make exemptions for log homes, but still you will want to increase your energy efficiency.
Things that determine if a log home will be energy efficient.
There are many things that you can do to increase the energy efficiency of a log home. Before you choose a style or company you may want to look at these things when designing your log home.
As stated above log thickness will increase the energy efficiency of the log home. Many companies use thinner logs that will give you a much lower R-Value. Companies like Lok’n Logs log homes cut their logs to be 10+ inches giving you a higher R-Value. This allows you to have good energy efficiency and still see the logs on your interior.
Add Insulation to the interior.
If you are planning on building your log home with thinner logs, then you will most likely want to add insulation on the interior walls. Many people do this and add tongue and groove walls to the interior of their cabin.
Choose quality windows.
Windows can make your log home cozy or freezing. Choosing high quality windows will always pay off. Cheap or poorly installed windows are often the biggest reason a log home is hard to heat. Trying to save on windows will just cost you in heating bills.
Using backer rod and chinking.
Backer-rod is a foam that goes between the logs and chinking is what seals the gaps. If you are building a log home without either, you are creating room for air and moisture. Not only will you lose energy efficiency, but you will also risk rot.