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Here is one of the most misunderstood questions concerning Log Homes, energy efficiency.

Log Home companies boast that their homes are the MOST energy efficient, and many owners claim that Log Homes are more energy efficient, but where's the proof you need?

Well, back in the 70's, some state building codes added energy requirements calculated in "R" -values. This was a measurement used to calculate the rate of static thermal resistance, NOT heat storage, or rate of heat loss. Log home producers objected to this, and sought recognition of Thermal mass, whereby solid-wood wall logs heated by the sun retain that heat as the outside temperature falls, then radiates heat back inside the home, requiring less heating energy use.

The National Bureau of Standards and Technology erected test buildings and recorded their energy consumption, their findings were amazing. I found that over a 3 week spring heating period, log building used 46% less energy than the same sized insulated wood-frame building; during the 11 week summer period, the log building used 24% less cooling energy than the insulated wood frame building; and during the 14 week winter period; the log building used 15% less than the insulated wood-frame building.

Minnesota Department of Public Services and the National Association of Log Builders National Research Center at a study in Minnesota, measured air leakage of 23 log homes. It concluded that the worst leakage's were not log related but instead, they were at Cathedral ceilings, windows and door frames and the tops of the walls.

Many more tests have taken place by many institutes and the conclusion...... " Log Mass is a significant benefit" to home construction.

But..... no home , no matter the type of construction, is energy efficient if poor construction methods are used.

Ask them if they are happy with their home and what their heating bill is like.

The preceding article was written by "Thomas Laidlaw" a loghome builder.


Comment by
We moved into a lovely log home at an altitude of 8200 feet in the early fall of 2002 near Steamboat Springs Colorado. Much to my surprise the exterior of the home, which looked good, had not been maintained in 10 years. In the first months of fall and early winter we discovered serious air leakage. All the logs were plumb and the home was solid. The doors and windows were square. No leakage there. Over the years of settling the foam between the logs had absorbed wind blown sand and was naturally grown down. The walls leaked. I chinked the interior walls on two levels and stopped 90+% of all airflow. The exterior walls were chinked in the summer.
In the middle of first winter we would see snow drifts behind our home 6-8 feet high. On cold days the average temperature was 8 degrees with the nights dropping to -10 degrees.
Note... This 2700 sf home was heated by one propane heater with a maximum output of 33000 BTU. Once the logs were warm the heater the heater easily maintained the set temperature of 69 degrees. If we had guests the heater was turned up to 72 degrees to accomodate their needs.
Heat does rise. The upper level of our home was always warm and toasty. The lower lever was comfortable to us. On extremely cold days we used a ceiling paddle fan in the loft to push warm air down.
There are no airpockets in the walls of log homes. Once the cells in the logs are warm the home stays warm. My personal opinion is that there is no way a conventional home will ever be as warm and inviting as a log home. I know, I have lived in both. We shall have a log home again in the near future.
Yes Tom, our heating bill started high but soon dropped to $750 - $800 per year.
Be of good cheer.