by: Leah Kerkman | Log Home Design
Incorporating these energy-efficient elements into your home may be pricier upfront, but they’ll end up costing you less in the long run.
1. Eliminate Heat Transfer Weak Spots in Your Log Home:
Log homes are known for their walls of windows and dormers. But with all that glass comes more opportunity for heat transfer, which can result in higher heating and cooling costs. South-facing windows with large roof overhangs are a good solution to this problem. During the winter, these windows will let in sunlight, warming your home and reducing your need for heat. And during the summer, when the sun is higher in the sky, the overhangs will block the powerful rays so you won’t need to blast the AC all season long. Of course, these design tricks won’t help much if your windows and doors themselves are leaking. When making your decision, look for products with a low U-factor (a rating of how energy efficient a window is), a low air leakage rating and a frame made of fiberglass or composite wood for the best insulating properties.
2. Install a Tankless Water Heater:
Choosing a water heater might not be the most appealing part of building your log home, but new technologies have created models that always have hot water at the ready (say good bye to cold showers!) and save you money in operating costs. Tankless water heaters are priced similarly to standard water heaters, but their size and technology are completely different. They’re so compact, they can fit in a small closet mounted to a wall. And rather than constantly heating water, a tankless water heater only heats water as its needed, providing an unlimited source of efficiently produced hot water.
3. Save Money with a Geothermal Heat Pump:
If you can work it into your budget, a geothermal heat pump can add up to dramatic savings. While this type of system can be as much as $7,000 more than a traditional heating system, homeowners almost immediately see a cost reduction in their bills. Experts estimate the pump pays for itself in as little as three years. How does it work? It’s installed underground, where a series of pipes collects hot and cold air from below the Earth’s surface, which remains a pretty constant temperature. That air is then circulated into the home—no other type of furnace or air conditioning is needed. However, you can purchase dual-source heat pumps that use both standard and geothermal technology. While they aren’t as efficient as geothermal heat pumps, they cost less upfront.
4. Install Low-Consumption Plumbing Fixtures:
Even if you stick with a standard water heater, there are ways to cut back on your water consumption. Think about using low-consumption plumbing fixtures (think faucets, showerheads and toilets) in your log home. By law, all new toilets must use a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush (this is compared to older models, which can use up to 5 gallons per flush). But you can save even more water, and therefore more money, by purchasing a high-efficiency, 1.28-gallon-per-flush toilet. Also, look for showerheads and faucets that have aerators—screw-on tips that greatly reduce the water flow yet not the pressure.
5. Substitute Standard Lights for Compact Fluorescent Lighting:
One of easiest ways to reduce your electrical output? Use compact fluorescent lamps or CFLs. They can replace the traditional incandescent bulbs in most light fixtures, including outdoor lights, lamps, and specialty fixtures. While they cost more upfront, they last much longer and use less electricity than incandescents. In fact, the lifespan of one CFL is 4.5 years—and in that amount of time, each fixture that boasts a compact fluorescent will save you about $60. Imagine the savings if you used them for all of your lighting!