When it comes to improving energy efficiency in a log home, having a well-sealed building envelope is key. The building envelope is the exterior sides, floor and roof— basically any structure that keeps the outside air out and inside air in. Log homes are no different: a well-sealed log home with perform better over time, plus save money and energy. With a tight seal, it is also important to provide adequate and controlled ventilation for improved indoor air quality (IAQ) and to keep healthy, fresh air circulating.
Sealing Your Log Home
A key benefit to the stability and dryness of a Northern White Cedar log is that it can be well sealed against air leakage. Other log species can continue to shrink and settle, opening up multiple tiny gaps that allow outside air in and your expensive heated air out. To ensure that all the gaps and cracks are properly sealed in your Katahdin log home, we highly recommend working with a RESnet energy rater who will conduct a blower door test to identify any stray gaps that need attention before final interior finishing. The RESnet energy rater will use an infrared imaging system while the blower door is operating to show where air is leaking in.
Once your log home is well sealed, it’s essential for a healthy home to provide the recommended amount of air exchanges of between 5 and 9 air exchanges per hour, depending on the room. Rooms with high humidity and other airborne particulates or gases like bathrooms and kitchens should be on the higher end of circulation, while basements and bedrooms require less air changes per hour. Homeowners generally install exhaust fans in high humidity and high odor producing rooms, like bathrooms and kitchens, but depending on the total square footage, you may need ventilation beyond what these exhaust fans can provide.
Planning Energy Efficient Ventilation
The essential planning for ventilation is to ensure that the right amount of air is circulating for healthy air, while decreasing the loss of energy for the expensive, conditioned inside air. That’s where an HRV or ERV can improve your homes efficiency and air quality. What’s the difference between an HRV and an ERV?
- Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) supplies fresh air into the home and exhausts stale air, while retaining the heat or energy in the indoor air before blowing it outside.
- Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) transfers both heat and moisture from outside air to the outgoing air stream. An ERV is recommended for climates that experience high humidity levels.
Energy efficient ventilation also limits the amount of outside pollutants drawn inside. These might include allergens, dust, smoke or other particulates. For families with allergies or other breathing problems, these machines work to make your home’s heating and cooling filters perform efficiently and keep out dust or allergens.