Are solid or full log homes energy efficient?

With home energy costs on the rise and energy efficiency changes in the building codes one of the most frequently asked questions, “Are full log homes energy efficient?”  

The simple answer is yes.  Most folks know the term R-value, which is used for conventional framed housing, but I bet you didn't know that full log homes are measured by their thermal mass.  Here are the two terms defined.


  Measures a materials resistance to the transfer of heat from one side to another. 

Thermal Mass:

  A materials capacity to absorb, retain and slowly release heat over time.

Logs have a relatively low resistance to heat transfer, but they do posses the ability to absorb and retain heat in there cellular structure.

In the 90’s the Log Home Council of the National Association of Home Builders was able to define two things.  First, logs have a thermal mass because of their cellular structure, bulk and thickness.  Second, thermal mass offers significant energy saving benefits because it releases heat back into the home when the temperature drops.

The first study focused on heat loss through the log wall compared to a stick framed wall.  The finding was that energy leakage occurred in the same places as a stick framed home, around window and door frames, at the peak of the cathedral ceiling and at the top of walls.  The conclusion that leakage was not due to the log walls.  The second study concluded that the thermal mass of the log wall does significantly reduce energy use for hearting in cold climates.

As a result, the Nation’s Model Energy Code recognized the energy conservation benefits of thermal mass.  This recognition was the goal of the Log Homes Council, a part of the Building Systems Councils of the National Association of Home Builders. 

This summary of the study was interpreted by The Leelanau Log Home Company.  To learn more read the study by the NAHB Log Homes Council:

By The Leelanau Log Home Company LLC

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