In the heat of the summer, you might wonder if a log cabin can keep its cool. I have wondered the same thing.
Are log cabins cool in the summer heat? Log cabins are cool in the summer heat. Cabins are made of wood which is a natural insulator. There are some methods you can use to make it so it stays cool. It’s all in your construction and insulation.
Optimal insulation is dependent on the materials you choose to use when you are building your log cabin. A log cabin will stay cool all day. However, what about the upper floors on a cabin? I’ve noticed that, because heat rises, the upstairs floors on a lot of cabins are still really hot in the summer.
How Do Materials Effect Temperature?
Because they are made of wood, log cabins are naturally insulating. Depending on how they are built, they generally heat up quickly in the summer in those upper floors. This can’t change unless you have some sort of heating/cooling system in your cabin.
When I was living in Brazil for a time, I noticed that the people there use cement instead of wood to build their houses. Cement is a great way to keep heat out. In the United States we are more likely to use wood to build our houses, and log cabins, in particular, are extremely popular.
When I would visit those rare places in Brazil where their houses were made out of wood, I could hardly breathe in their homes because it was so hot. They were generally rooms that were higher off the ground and were poorly built.
This is why the materials you use to build your log cabin will greatly impact the temperature of your living space. If you build your cabin with the future in mind, you’ll be able to optimize the cabins capabilities of temperature regulation.
What Methods or Building Materials Can I Use to Keep It Cool?
I’ve mentioned how materials can affect the temperature of your log cabin. However, I’ve not mentioned what kind of materials you should use. It’s obvious that you will be using wood to build your log cabin, but it’s not a bad idea to consider different materials for your floor, windows, doors, and roof.
Here are a few that I’ve come across in my internet search (and by my own personal experience) which could be of some use to you:
Cement Flooring– It can be tempting to build your cabin completely from wood. It is definitely aesthetically pleasing, but in a hot climate you would be better off using cement flooring. Creating a cement floor or slate floor is referred to as thermal mass. Thermal mass is effective heat absorption during the daylight heat, and heat flushing during the nighttime hours.
Fun Fact: A cement foundation and floor will not only keep your cabin cool, but it will also aid in rot prevention and water damage.
Reflective Roofing- A reflective roof keeps the heat out. (metal roofing is reflective but does not keep heat out) It doesn’t do a whole lot to keep the heat out, especially if you’ve got a highly insulated attic, but it’ll be a good aide.
Orientation- Have you noticed that the sun faces a different direction at different times of the year and during the day? Because of this, it matters what direction your house is facing. Where you put a window and where the sun is able to pierce through will change the temperature.
Lighting- I had a friend in college who owned a lamp which was really bright. It was so bright one night that I put my shirt over the top. I wasn’t worried that my shirt would catch fire because the lamp had a cover. (The cover just wasn’t doing its job.)
Within a minute of being covered, I began to smell my shirt burning. The lamp emitted so much heat that it almost burned a hole in my shirt.
Lighting can emit plenty of unwanted heat. You want your light bulbs to be compatible with the sockets. Choosing light bulbs that will emit the least amount of heat will help bring the temperature down in your cabin.
What Are Some Ways I Can Keep The Upper Rooms of My Log Cabin Cool?
If you are not used to living in a hot or humid place, knowing how to keep a room cool can be a struggle. When I was living in Brazil, I learned some great tricks and ideas for keeping things cool.
Here is a list of methods to keep your log cabin cool:
- Keep those upstairs doors open- Your downstairs is going to stay cool, but the upstairs will be hot. If you leave the doors closed, the hot air will only get worse. Allow the air to circulate by opening those doors.
- Open the windows at night- Opening the upstairs windows is crucial to keeping things cool. It’s all about air flow when you are trying to cool things down. My cousins own a cabin and it is nice and cool downstairs. However, the moment you go upstairs it’s extremely stuffy. They combat this by opening the windows at night.
- Buy covers for the windows that have great insulation- In addition to opening the windows at night, closing them during the day and covering them up is also important. If you don’t close them before it starts to get warm you’ll be in for a rude awakening. Hot air will rush in and you’ll be left with a hot upstairs.
- Buy a fan- Putting a fan in the window at night and using that fan during the day will keep up that airflow which was previuosly talked about. Fans will double the amount of cool and fresh air that is going to enter your log cabin while you sleep.
- Put it an air conditioning system- If all else fails, just buy an air conditioning system that is separate from your downstairs. Either a system or a swamp cooler is best.
All of these methods can be used to regulate log cabin temperature. Most of them are given as an inexpensive alternate route. While they are all good methods and they work great, buying a cooling system is going to be your best bet.
What Are My Air Conditioning Options?
There are several Air Conditioning system options you can choose from that will do a good job of keeping your cabin cool. I’m going to mention three different options you can use.
Homemade Air Conditioner:
On YouTube there are some great videos on how to make your own air conditioner with just $20. All you need is PVC pipes, small fans, ice, and a styrofoam container to hold that ice. It’s a great inexpensive cooling method. It’s not the most sophisticated, but it certainly does the job.
Here’s one of my favorite tutorials for an air conditioning unit:
Buying a Heating And Cooling System:
If you buy a heating and cooling system that can reach the entire house(which is generally an electric one) that is another method. A system will cool/heat up each room individually and you won’t have to wait as long for it to cool down.
Some systems even have the option of being able to control each room separately. So, as mentioned earlier, you could have the downstairs cooler off and the upstairs cooler on. You would be able to use half the energy than if it was all controlled by one dial.
Swamp coolers are by far the most popular and widely used of air conditioning. If you are wanting something that is good quality and also does not cost and arm and a leg, a swamp cooler is a good choice.
Swamp coolers can sometimes have the option of cleaning the air that comes in. It has a good filtering system and will keep your air nice and fresh.
Swamp coolers come in many different shapes, sizes, and varieties. The most common that I’ve seen is the one which fits in your window and doesn’t come out. Amazon has one that I have found to be a pretty common purchase choice; lots of good reviews for it.
Note: The filters in those conditioners have to be regularly switched and cleaned. They can be a hassle if they need to be moved.
The upside with those units is that they can also be controlled from room to room. The downside is that you’d have to buy them all separately for each room. If you have a small cabin that’s not a problem because there’s not much space.
For those have larger cabins, that can be a very ineffective and inefficient option for cooling. It all depends on your cabin size and cooling needs.
How Much do Air Conditioning Systems Cost?
After reading all of the above information, you might be wondering how much it actually costs to put in an air conditioning system. Just for installation of an entire system, the average cost is around $4,000 to $7,000. (This cost is based on a Central Air Conditioning Unit system.)
If someone is installing a swamp cooler than it would be nearer to about $300. There are other costs which go into it, but this is just a basic element.
Your log cabin size is going to effect the air conditioning installation cost as well. While it won’t have a huge effect, it is still something that needs to be taken into consideration when buying air conditioning for your log cabin home.
Note: I would not advise trying to install it yourself unless you know that you are doing.
A swamp cooler can be pretty easily installed just by you, so that brings your cost down. However, a whole system needs to be done by professionals. You should only attempt to install it if you know how, or it’s a simple installation.
Are Log Cabins Energy Efficient? Log Cabins maintain a pretty consistent temperature because of their insulating properties. Most homes don’t have that benefit, which is why we all spend so much money on heating and cooling systems.
Do log cabins stay warm in the winter? With all this modern building technology, log cabins will definitely stay warm in the winter. In fact, they are so efficiently insulated that they can even get too hot. You probably don’t have to worry about getting too cold in the winter.
Are fireplaces in a log cabin really efficient heat sources? Fireplaces heat up a log cabin almost as well as an electric heating system. It may take longer for your cabin to heat up, but it will do the job. However, it would be even better to get a more modern and energy efficient wood burning stove as an option. You should make sure to get the right kind of fireplace. Whichever one you choose will make a difference.