November 30, 2017
Building a Log Home That's Winter-Ready
Log homes have been around almost as long as humans. Trees are a handy renewable resource, they're plentiful, and they're the perfect building material for warm, sturdy homes. In Michigan especially, we need homes guaranteed to keep us toasty through the winter, and these days, everyone's looking for a home that can do that at a price that's affordable. Energy efficiency is a term that's thrown around a lot, and it's especially relevant to log homes. If you're looking to build a log home that can withstand even the worst Michigan winters, here are a few design tips that will keep your home warm, without wreaking havoc on your wallet:
Log homes are exceptionally energy efficient
The first thing to know about building a log home is that they're exceptionally energy efficient. Logs possess a quality known as "thermal mass." This means they collect and absorb the energy in your home, and store it within their own mass as heat. Then, they radiate that heat back through your home, making it easy to maintain a stable internal temperature with less effort from your heater.
Choose logs with a quality R-value
Essentially, the thicker the logs, the more energy and heat they'll retain. So, as a general rule of thumb, the larger the logs you use to build your home, the more energy efficient they'll be. But in case you're looking for a more scientific way to choose the material for your home, know that the timber industry rates logs based on their R-value. R-value essentially means how well a material resists air flow through it. The higher the R-value of the logs for your home, the better they will be at retaining heat, and the more energy efficient your resulting home.
Choose the heating system that's right for you
While log homes are exceptional at maintaining temperature, you still need something to get the heat pumping in your home. While you may not use a heater as often in a log home as you would a traditional style home, you'll still need one for the chilly Michigan winter weather. Most Michiganders opt for central heating, with a forced air furnace that pumps warm air through ducts in your home, but know that it's not your only choice.
Log homes traditionally feature hearths that do a lot to warm up a home, but more advanced technologies like ductless mini-split units and radiant heat are also great options. Talk with your log home builder to determine which heating method is best suited to your home and your budget, and know that whatever you choose, you definitely won't need to use it as often with that super energy efficient new home.
Consider a south-facing log home
If you're looking to build a log home that's toasty warm through the winter, consider building one that faces south. The southern facing side of your home will absorb more heat with UV rays, and will get more sunlight when you add windows on that side.
Opt for a generator
Michigan is no stranger to power outages. We get them once in awhile every winter, and any Michigan homeowner knows to be prepared. If you're building a new home, or even if you're just looking to upgrade your current log home, consider adding in an automatic generator that will kick in if the power goes out. That way, you can at least keep your home warm and your groceries from spoiling until Consumers can fix up the power lines.
Steep pitch roof
While there are a variety of roof options for log homes, we recommend choosing something with a steeper pitch to handle the snow we get here in Michigan. Homes with steeply pitched roofs make it easier for the snow to slide right off the roof, rather than pile up and add weight to the structure of your home. If you opt for a metal roof, that ups the potential that snow will slide off. Metal is much smoother than most other roofing options, and because there's little friction, snow pretty much slides right onto the ground.
Log homes are one of the most durable types of homes in existence. Many historical log homes have been around for centuries because they really are that tough. But it's always good to take a few precautions to make sure your home stays looking nice for years to come. One precaution for log home owners to take is to add a slightly larger overhang on your roof than is standard.
The farther your roof hangs over the exterior of your home, the less likely snow and other precipitation are to stick to the sides of your home and absorb into your home's logs. While you've probably worked to ensure your home is well stained and sealed, it's always better to be safe than sorry. Roof overhangs ensure that snow and rain rarely touch the exterior siding of your home, keeping it safe and warm no matter the weather. They're also a great way to ensure you don't have to shovel your porch or balcony.
Choose quality windows
Windows are rated on the same R-value scale as the logs for your home. You put a lot of effort into making sure your log home was as energy efficient as possible, so don't stop at the windows. They're one of the number one culprits for letting conditioned air escape homes. Make sure you're choosing a window option that works as hard as your logs do to keep hot air in during the winter, and you'll see some positive results on those heating bills come winter.
Keep up with regular maintenance
Finally, it's important for any home that you keep up with regular maintenance. When it comes to log homes, this means and inspecting for signs of water damage regularly and clear-coating or re-staining if necessary. You should also caulk and chink the checks that will naturally appear in your log home as it begins to settle, and logs continue to dry out. So long as your home is well sealed by chinking and caulk, you're likely to have a log home that's at least 30 percent more efficient than a traditionally constructed home of the same size. That's a serious energy savings.
If you want more information about the energy efficiency of log homes, or if you need supplies to keep up your log home, make sure to check out the Timeless Wood Care Products website. We have the widest variety of log home maintenance products, and we believe in providing our customers with only top-of-the-line quality.