9 Green Building Tips

Nine smart ways to make your log home more energy efficient all year long.

Green BuildingPerhaps it’s the allure of the wood or the timeless craftsmanship, but many log home owners say their houses offer a powerful connection to nature. That’s what led Susan and Will Rushman to investigate green building technologies for the home they’ll be building on a 10-acre site about 100 miles from New York City. “Building a green home is a priority for us,” says Susan. “It almost feels like a responsibility — like we’re doing the right thing.” Will agrees. Will and Susan aren’t alone in their desire for a green home. Indeed, many custom-home builders report that their customers have begun to ask for ways to increase efficiencies in their dream homes. Thanks to a revolution in new building materials and energy-efficient products, all new homes today are twice as energy-efficient as they were 30 years ago, according to the National Association of Home Builders. And veteran log home builders say it’s relatively easy to make a new home green. Here are some suggestions from the pros.

1. Orient your home with solar power in mind.

Your home’s position on your property can help or hinder energy consumption. Ideally, your site will have enough space to position the home so it can take advantage of the seasons as well as daily cycles.

2. Consider reclaimed timbers.

They are harvested from old factories, barns, bridges and piers that were built hundreds of years ago. Or try reclaimed old-growth timbers that have been dredged from rivers and lakes near long-closed sawmills.

3. Opt for engineered wood.

These materials are manufactured from smaller, faster-growing tree species and help reduce the use of older, mature trees in the construction industry by more than 60 percent.

4. Wrap your frame in insulation.

That means using structural insulated panels (SIPs) made with environmentally safe. The foam-core insulation is recyclable, has zero vapor permeability and no physical degradation over time.

5. Buy smart windows and doors.

Choosing energy-efficient windows and exterior doors will cut down on energy loss. Compare products by their U-value ratings. The lower the U-value, the more efficient the window or door.

6. Ensure fresh air.

To let your home breathe properly, use an air-to-air exchanger. These systems draw in fresh air and eject stale air, and can recover as much as 70 to 80 percent of the heat or cooling of your inside air.

7. Shoot for Energy Star status.

Have your home built to Energy Star guidelines, by hiring builders who adhere to these standards.

8. Go tankless for hot water.

These water heaters produce hot water on demand, cutting down on the energy loss and reducing water consumption.

9. Choose appliances wisely.

When buying an appliance, remember that it has two price tags: what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy or water it uses. Energy Star-rated appliances can save you anywhere from 10 to 50 percent on your energy bill.