Smart Energy Solutions for Your Log Home

Published on | Log Homes |Josh Horner

Let the Savings Begin!

Building a new log home is the ultimate dream for many American families; and the American Institute of Architects states that there are well over 500,000 log homes in the United States with 90% of them being used as primary residences.   Additionally, log-home sales have doubled to $1.7 billion since 1995; and it brings up the question: “What are some impressive energy-efficient solutions one can include in a log-home to make the home truly energy-smart?”

Energy efficiency, energy savings and a cleaner environment are crucially important; and all three factors work together as a highly-organized ‘team’; and are mutually inclusive. A log-home that is cozy and warm during those frigid months and delightfully cool when the heat-index reaches 100 degrees or more is what anyone would desire. Incorporating technologically-advanced building materials is a sure-fire way to keep the elements out and keep utility bills optimally low!   Owning any home has its inherent expenses; but utility bills that skyrocket shouldn’t be one of them!

Energy-Smart Products, Galore!

Energy-Star is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy voluntary program that helps home-owners save money as well as protect the environment through superior energy-efficient components, appliances and systems. Energy-smart features that can be incorporated into a log-home are not only impressively energy-friendly but are incredibly varied! Features such as ultra-efficient air-conditioners, metallic-coated windows which block the sun, and low-flow toilets and a host of other sustainable building products combine to form an entire energy-management system. It boils down to being environmentally-friendly and shaving significant costs off monthly utility bills.

Here are only a few state-of-the-art, smart-energy building components for log-homes that make an impact monetarily, environmentally and ethically:

The HVAC System:

When heat, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems utilize sealed air-ducts and programmable thermostats, it allows the components within the HVAC system to function much more efficiently.   The air, also, becomes ‘conditioned’ whereby it is more pure and odor-free; and temperature, humidity levels and air-movement maintain a comfortable, uninterrupted balance helping to conserve energy.

Energy-Star Appliances:

Appliances that are designated as ‘Energy-Star’ are very specialized and include every application imaginable: dishwashers, refrigerators, washers & dryers, humidifiers, fans and so many more! Energy-Star labeled appliances not only save significantly in terms of energy and money but, also, minimize emissions of greenhouse gases and air-pollutants.

Energy-Star appliances are designed to meet strict energy-efficient guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the EPA, an Energy-Star system in a log-home will deliver 20% savings on annual utility bills. The EPA goes on to say, “Over the course of 7 to 8 years, a family can save thousands of dollars in maintenance costs.”

Low-E Windows:

Low-E windows are impressively energy-effective and dramatically control one’s heating and cooling costs in-spite of any climate extremes! These distinctive products help to create the ultimate building envelope that keeps the heat in during the winter and the heat out during the hottest times of the year.

Log-homes are located in every geographic setting imaginable so choosing weather-specific windows and skylights that are appropriate for a particular area of the country is important. Some windows and skylights excel at keeping a log-home’s interior more cool while other varieties of windows are intended to keep the interiors more warm. Performance criteria for windows and skylights are based on specific climate zones as well as ratings that are certified by the National Fenestration Rating Counsel which offers certified ratings and labels to help consumers make relevant, educated purchases for their log-homes’ specific geographic locations.

CFL Lighting—A Bright Idea:

Would you believe that CFL bulbs use a whopping 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs? Additionally, they are up to 4 times more efficient than incandescent varieties and last 10 times longer—wow! Even mere bulbs can contribute to added energy savings!

‘Low-Flow’—The Way to Go:

One very interesting way to save a tremendous amount of money is to incorporate low-flow faucets. Consider the fact that 15% of an average household’s daily water-consumption is through faucet use, alone! Realistically, if a family of four uses a bathroom sink a mere 6 minutes each day--much of it being hot water--the daily water consumption, via low-flow faucets, can be reduced by 48 gallons a day.   The EPA figures indicate this would save almost 18,000 gallons of water each year!   The EPA goes on to say that even saving a ‘mere’ 700 gallons of water is the equivalent to 40 showers’-worth of H2O! Here’s another astounding statistic offered by the EPA: Using just one low-flow showerhead and one faucet aerator can reduce the average family’s HOT water use by more than 4,200 gallons in a single year! This will, also, lower a home’s natural gas water-heating costs.

Insulation—Green, Safe & Effective:

Choosing the most effective insulation product will deliver immense energy-savings; yet one needs to remain as ‘green’ as possible.  According to the U.S. Green Building Council, the average household spends about $650.00 annually on heating and cooling; and reducing that bill can be done with high-performance, eco-friendly insulation materials. Also, according to the Department of Energy, just by sealing existing air-leaks, one can save 10% on one’s annual utility bill!

There are a number of environmentally-preferable insulation products that are kind to our planet, completely safe for a home’s inhabitants and will optimally insulate one’s log-home--sheep’s wool is one such product.

Sheep’s-wool insulation is a very efficient thermal barrier and performs better than glass-fiber insulation. Wool has the ability to absorb remarkable levels of condensation (40% of its own weight) and still feel dry; and sheep’s wool absorbs dangerous gases! Sheep’s wool has an R-value of R-3.5 to R-4.0 per inch of thickness--fiberglass varies from R-3.2 to R-3.7. Astoundingly, sheep’s-wool and has a life expectancy of more than 100 years! If you insulate your home with wool, adjusting your heating or cooling systems will be minimized.

Energy-Star and the HERS Index:

Are you familiar with the HERS Index? If not, you might be interested in knowing that HERS is an acronym for Home Energy Rating System Index which is the industry standard for measuring a home’s energy efficiency. A ‘relative-performance’ score is calculated; and the lower the number, the more energy efficient the home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a ‘typical resale-home’ can expect a score of about 130 while a newer home that does not fully utilize Energy-Star systems comes in with a score of 100. Homes equipped with Energy-Star systems and appliances are, on average, rated at a beautifully-low score of ‘68’—who would have thought a score of under ‘70’ would ever be good news?—but when it comes to energy-efficiency and the HERS Index, it is very good news!

Log-home builders across the country are becoming increasingly committed to energy-smart building practices using select, state-of-the-art products in the most opportune way to optimally enhance a log-home’s energy performance. It’s all about reducing costs while treading lightly on our delicate planet!