The question of how energy efficient log homes are isn’t a simple one to answer. Modern or newly built log homes will likely be more energy-efficient than older homes. However, every log home can have improvements to make it better insulated, less expensive to maintain, and more comfortable to live in.
Whether you’re in the process of buying your first timber home or you’ve been living in one for years and want to reduce your utility bills, here are 17 different ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your log home.
1. Install Solar Panels on Your Roof
Solar panels are a classic solution for long-term energy savings. Having a solar powered system designed for your log home is an excellent investment and one that isn’t as difficult as you might think. Even a modest solar panel setup can help you save hundreds of dollars every year and is especially useful in winter, when electric heaters are often relied on.
2. Purposeful Landscaping
Landscaping isn’t just about making your yard look nice. Purposeful landscaping and planting trees or shrubbery can help reduce energy costs. Trees and larger shrubs can be planted in key locations around your log home to provide shade. A smart choice is to plant deciduous species, which will have their leaves in the summer to provide shade and reducing cooling/air conditioning costs. Come winter, these species will drop their leaves, letting the winter sun hit the home to help with warming.
3. Energy Efficient Log Homes Clad in Steel Siding
A more eco-friendly alternative to real timber is steel log siding. TruLog steel siding not only eliminates expensive and time-consuming maintenance needs of real timber, but it’s also a more sustainable material. Better yet, the insulation that is used in combination with Trulog steel offers better insulation and boosts energy-efficiency. The better a home is insulated, the less energy is consumed to keep the interior comfortable.
4. Ditch incandescent Lighting for LED and CFL Bulbs
A small fix for lowering your electric bill is to replace incandescent lighting with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs or LED lights. You can purchase CFL bulbs for just a few dollars per bulb. Not only do they use less electricity, they last longer, as well. LED lighting isn’t quite as popular, but still valuable for under-cabinet strip lighting, luxury recessed puck lights, and outdoor lighting as well. Solar-powered LED outdoor lights are a great way to kill two birds with one stone.
5. Replace Old Windows
Ever stand by a window and feel cold radiating from it? This is a surprisingly common issue for older windows, but one easily remedied by replacing them with new double-paned models. These double-pane windows have a double layered design to aid in insulation and prevent air leaks, whether you’re trying to keep your home cool or warm.
6. Invest in Energy Star Appliances
A good rule of thumb for all new appliances you purchase, whether it’s a washer and dryer set or a TV, is to be Energy Star certified or comparable. New homes should be outfitted with Energy Star appliances from the get-go. You don’t need to go out and spend thousands right away to replace all your appliances, but you can certainly replace broken or old appliances with Energy Star models as they break down.
7. Use Smart Thermostats
Technology continues to advance quickly and many home tech gadgets can help you achieve a more efficient home. With energy savings in mind, consider the idea of installing smart thermostats in your home. These programmable digital thermostats can control different rooms, can be set to lower temperatures during the hours when no one is usually home, and make temperature control during vacations a breeze. These can even be controlled with your mobile phone.
8. Add New Insulation
Old, compressed insulation is better than no insulation, but it certainly isn’t the best route to an energy-efficient log home. Your log home should have insulation added to the walls, the basement and the attic. The attic is often a neglected space when it comes to insulation, causing it to be a huge air leak in many homes. The use of spray foam and foam board makes it easy for handy homeowners to address this issue in their own attics.
9. Install Low Flow Fixtures
If your log home is situated in a suburban setting or otherwise relies on public water rather than a well, you can help lower your water bill by installing low flow faucets in your bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, and anywhere you have a faucet. Low flow showerheads and toilets should also be included. Those Energy Star appliances are also made to reduce water consumption.
10. Replace Old or Missing Weather Stripping
Weather stripping around doors and windows that is old, cracked, or missing entirely can be quickly and easily fixed. Using an appropriate sealant can also fill in any gaps in window or door frames that your log home has. These small gaps and leaks can really add up to a lot of energy loss, causing you to pay more to heat or cool your home.
11. Upgrade to a Tankless Water Heater
(Photo credit: eccotemp.com)
A tankless water heater can be more than 30% more efficient than conventional water heaters. Traditional water heaters tend to only last 10 to 15 years, so if your older model is starting to have issues, you should consider getting a tankless/demand water heater to save on your energy bills and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
12. Install Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans are a surprisingly efficient appliance as they can lower your energy bill by upwards of 40% under some circumstances. The reason is that ceiling fans cause air movement, which gives the illusion of a room being cooler than it is. The cooler the room feels during the warmer months, the less you need to rely on air conditioning.
13. Paint Rooms a Light Color
If you’re finding that you rely on artificial lighting a lot in your log home, you might want to think about repainting the room and ceiling with a lighter color shade. The lighter the room is, the more light is naturally reflected. White and light colored rooms don’t need as much lighting and they also tend to be cooler, making it a great DIY project for kitchens and living rooms.
14. Replace Exterior Doors with Insulated Models
You can give your log home an instant facelift and help with insulation by replacing older exterior doors with thicker, insulated fiberglass doors. You can find these doors in a variety of styles, including attractive rustic options that will go well with the traditional log home aesthetic. Don’t forget that if you have a door in your home attached to your garage, it should ideally be an exterior-grade, insulated door as well.
15. Consider Lighter Colored Siding for Hot Climates
If you live in a fairly hot region, you should really consider going for a lighter color for your home’s exterior. This is easily accomplished if you opt for Trulog siding in Colorado Pine or Cedar. Lighter exteriors reflect more heat and will be easier to keep cool when temperatures are high.
16. Insulate Hot Water Pipes
Insulating hot water pipes by wrapping them in special sleeves reduces heat loss and can increase water temperature by up to 4ºF. This is a project that can take a few hours of your time and doesn’t require any handyman skills. Traditional foam insulation sleeves are often used. Be sure that the insulation is at least 6″ from the flue. Foil tape is ideal for securing the foam to the pipe to prevent it from moving.
17. Complete Annual HVAC Tune Ups
(Photo credit: Culver City Heating & Cooling)
In addition to regularly cleaning air filters to ensure maximum air flow, it is also highly advised to perform an annual tune up. If you’re unfamiliar with home HVAC systems, it would be worth the money to have a professional come out. This tune up will involve cleaning the system and coils, tightening any loosened connections, lubricating move parts, and generally checking to ensure everything is working properly. The better your HVAC system runs, the less expensive it is to use.
Energy efficient log homes are not only less expensive to maintain, but homeowners are also eligible for tax credits of up to $500. Not only will the home improvement tips featured help you save on energy and water bills, but upgrading certain equipment means you can also get some money back. An excellent start to a more energy efficient log home is to hire a professional energy auditor to evaluate your home. This certified auditor will help you determine where your main inefficiencies are, which is very helpful in figuring out where to start first if you’re a bit overwhelmed by so many options.