Better insulator - log or straw?

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Old 03-22-08, 07:01 AM
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Better insulator - log or straw?

I am putting together ideas for the house I plan to build, hopefully within 2-3 years. My plan is to use green, recycled and renewable as much as practical and make the house as inexpensive to operate and maintain as possible. Toward that end, I'm interested in which material makes the better insulator for wall construction, wood log or straw bale? I have liked the look of log homes for many years, but I know that log home kits can be quite pricey and can require expensive special techniques and tools to complete. On the other hand, my boss has piqued my interest in straw bale construction through his own fascination with it. It sounds like there may not be a better and cheaper insulator to be had, and the tools and techniques seem to be nearly child's play. Any input?
 
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Old 03-22-08, 09:53 AM
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Best insulator - log or bale?

Straw bales are a much better insulator. They are also much thicker, so you have design challenges, although with wood you also have design/construction problems because of the shrinkage of the wood.

Wood is really not as much of an insulatoer, but it performs well because a well maintained log home does not thave the infiltration of a frame home.

If you want real energy efficiency, you will have to spend more money.
 
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Old 03-22-08, 10:01 AM
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Logs vs Straw

Originally Posted by CMil View Post
I am putting together ideas for the house I plan to build, hopefully within 2-3 years. My plan is to use green, recycled and renewable as much as practical and make the house as inexpensive to operate and maintain as possible. Toward that end, I'm interested in which material makes the better insulator for wall construction, wood log or straw bale? I have liked the look of log homes for many years, but I know that log home kits can be quite pricey and can require expensive special techniques and tools to complete. On the other hand, my boss has piqued my interest in straw bale construction through his own fascination with it. It sounds like there may not be a better and cheaper insulator to be had, and the tools and techniques seem to be nearly child's play. Any input?
I recently saw a program called "Inventors Nation", which is a very interesting program, BTW. It's about a group of college-aged kids traveling around the US in a bus run by used cooking oil, visiting green inventors. Anyway, there was a guy in North Carolina which build houses out of pine and he said that pine had unique qualities of collecting heat of 68 degrees and releasing it. This guy also used the principle of a "house within a house" facing the south. The air would heat up and circulate around the interior house with a sloping roof to the north. The warm air would travel up then be forced or fall down as it cooled go around and under until it returned to the south to be heated again.

My gut feeling is the same as yours, though. I think hay (straw) bales would insulate better. I've looked at log cabins, too, while beautiful, insulation is a problem with them. The log cabin "kits" , generally from Canada*, are more expensive than traditional housing, so I dropped the idea of building one. I still might try building a small cabin (about 10'x6'x6') with the wood I have available in my property (in Georgia), just to see how well it works, or doesn't.

The Three Little Pigs, aside, the house of straw may beat a house of sticks.

*One element of green building is to consider the transportation of materials. Buying locally or using local materials is better for the environment because of less fuel use.
 
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Old 03-23-08, 05:50 AM
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As far as insulation is concerned, hey straws act just like fiberglass.
No solid wood can beat their insulation quality.
 
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Old 03-23-08, 07:20 AM
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Insulation issues aside.. make sure it's the house of your dreams if you build of straw. Resale will be about as close to impossible as making a snowball in a heated oven!!
 
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Old 03-23-08, 03:17 PM
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http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/.../mytopic=10350

Try this link. There are related links to the right.
 
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Old 03-23-08, 03:54 PM
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Slightly off topic, I built a log home once before they were in vogue, and before anyone did any "studies" on them. Our local power company wouldn't give me a "good cents" certification, mainly because they didn't understand thermal transfer. Logs, absorb sunshine heat during the day and transfer it in during the night when it is needed, and it is reversed when the cool night air cools the logs and the cool air is transferred in the daytime to the inside. Of course the insulation factor isn't what hay bales are, and after watching some of the "green" programs on the subject, making a hay bale pretty can only be done by a cow eating it.
 
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Old 04-03-08, 07:26 PM
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How about cordwood? From what Iv'e read,it's pretty energy efficient and cheap to build. Probably could never get a mortagage or insurace on it.
 
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