By Scott Huntington
In addition to exuding a warm sort of earthiness with their appearance, log cabins can be environmentally friendly, too. While the typical household spends around $2,000 per year on energy, most reports from log cabin owners show less spending in comparison on air conditioning, hot water, heating and lighting. Many of these owners are making full use of a log cabin's accommodating green-friendly features, both pre-existing and open to modification.
Energy efficiency, building materials and insulation are a few reasons why log cabins can be environmentally friendly.
Energy efficiency and conservation
Energy conservation and log cabins go hand-in-hand, as the sheer massive size of logs contribute well to conserving energy. The material is particularly well-suited for living, as a study by the University of Maine at Orono found out. The study showed that logs absorb heat energy throughout the day and radiate it at night, evening out the temperature and resulting in a pleasant living environment. Today, many sources of timber construction use green-friendly engineering practices to ensure elimination of air infiltration.
A log cabin's infrastructure makes for high efficiency in regard to heating and air conditioning, in addition to being engineered specifically for energy conservation and safety in many cases. Many log cabins belong to the Log and Timber Homes Council, which ensures safety and transparency with manufacturers of heating systems, roofing materials and other log cabin components. This results in a comprehensive approach where an increasing number of log cabins include double-paned windows, improved venting, and sub-flooring to improve overall efficiency and safety.
In addition to making the homes themselves all about conservation, many manufacturers and suppliers are making sure that the harvesting of the logs stays as green as possible. They’ll often limit soil erosion and compaction, and they’ll also help plant, nurture and sustain new trees.
Eco-friendly staining: A lessening threat
Many critics of log cabins point to the necessity of staining to protect them from the elements, which requires a good stainer. Many of these stainers are not good for the environment, but you can also find plenty with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The industry has seen increasing regulation as low-VOC alternatives are becoming more readily available. With these alternatives becoming the primary source for many homeowners, the argument against staining being environmentally detrimental is becoming outdated.
A desirable thermal mass
Log cabins tout thermal mass that helps reduce the amount of space an air conditioning system has to reach, helping accommodate cross ventilation and proper shading. Logs act like thermal batteries with their day-night operations lend to comfort, which reduces the need for air conditioning or heating to the point of many homeowners.
Proximity to sunlight
Log cabins are typically situated in sunlight, often due to the lack of other surrounding buildings. With this in mind, adapting to make the most of this is very environmentally friendly, especially as solar energy becomes more accessible in cost via immediacy and government programs. Today's solar panels are highly adaptable to log cabins, resulting in savings on your energy bills and for the environment.
Log cabins tend to attract those who care about the environment, as a large appeal of a log cabin is how well-integrated into the natural environment it looks. It’s typically built to exist within nature as opposed to stand out, like conventional homes. Keeping this in mind, it’s no surprise that log cabin owners often use eco-friendly methods to build and maintain their homes, which include:
- Using sheep's wool as opposed to fiberglass or foam insulation between logs. Sheep's wool does not have petrochemical ingredients or an environmentally harmful manufacturing process, compared to fiberglass or foam.
- Using dead timber instead of live trees to build the log cabin is another alternative for eco-friendly log cabin owners or prospective owners.
- Using mortar instead of petrochemical-based synthetic chinking.
- Opting for recycled and reclaimed materials when possible. These are often available for lumber, electrical fixtures, plumbing, structural beams and more.
- Making full use of the log cabin's natural thermal battery-like energy efficiency in the home's layout.
Log cabin owners use tips like these to make the most of their log cabin’s natural environmentally friendly features, in addition to the relatively minor adjustments – like opting for a different material – that can go a long way in helping the environment without sacrificing quality.
Scott Huntington is a writer and blogger. Follow him on Twitter@SMHuntington.