Ample evidence that log homes are energy hogs

Ample evidence that log homes are energy hogs Dave Loeks' letter in the Jan. 30 News attempts to twist the log home energy argument, but portions of it aptly make my point, including his statement that "we are all entitled to our own opinion, but not our

Dave Loeks’ letter in the Jan. 30 News attempts to twist the log home energy argument, but portions of it aptly make my point, including his statement that “we are all entitled to our own opinion, but not our own facts.” But who has offered an opinion, and who has referenced facts?

To summarize, this exchange started when Mr. Loeks claimed that log homes are energy efficient in ways that “aren’t really well understood.” Now he’s claiming that log homes are more comfortable, and presumably more energy efficient, than frame homes.

That’s a problem with those who profit from selling alternate construction assemblies. Every product has trade-offs, but the marketing claims would have you believe it’s all pro, no con. I believe that potential purchasers should have some facts before they make a decision.

Mr. Loeks states that my rebuttal to his claims is just an opinion, even though I quoted sources such as the National Research Council and a log builders association. Referencing reputable sources isn’t a personal opinion, it’s a presentation of facts based on testing.

Ah, but Mr. Loeks claims that all testing has been laboratory work or computer modeling, so isn’t representative. The lab work has been large-scale test walls that allowed for multiple variables, not little test-tube samples. Further, over 50 years of testing has produced consistent results. In sum, log walls are poor insulators, the thermal mass has some value in a moderate climate, and log homes use a lot of energy in a cold climate.

But wait! Loeks notes that the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology is going to do a whole-home, real world comparison of different wall constructions, and this will “at last provide valid comparative data.” Apparently Mr. Loeks is unaware of a study conducted during 1981-82 in the U.S. Complete homes with identical plans, one frame and one log, were measured.

I suppose this test isn’t quoted by log builders because it didn’t give the results they want. There have been similar “in the field” studies. I’m surprised Loeks doesn’t know about them.

Loeks states that the data proving log homes are energy hogs doesn’t “yet exist.” Sure it does, unless Loeks’s personal opinion outweighs 50 years of testing.

But rather than believe either Loeks or myself, there’s a couple simple observations any Yukoner can make. In a cold winter, my 20-year-old wrap-and-strap house burns three cords of wood in an Ardent 65 stove to heat 1,800 square feet. Simply, that’s one cord per 600 square feet per winter. People I know in similarly sized log homes use between eight and 12 cords, or three to four times as much. What’s your consumption?

Yukoners are also familiar with the stud lines on house walls that appear both inside and outside, when it gets cold. A friend joked that he’d wait until winter to hang pictures, as he could see every stud. That’s the wood conducting energy outside.

Mr. Loeks has one thing right: “saying it’s so doesn’t make it so.” I think it’s pretty clear which one of us is just saying things, and which has substantial evidence to back up the statement that log homes are energy hogs.

Charles McLaren


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