Some people think oil production will peak very soon, so there will be less and less oil available every year. If that happens, home heating costs could skyrocket. Other people are more optimistic, thinking that oil production won’t crash until sometime after 2020 to 2030. These estimations are based on the Hubbert peak theory, and examining historic records of oil production rates (which have substantially declined over the years).
Even if peak oil theory is wrong, the world still faces a major energy crisis for a variety of reasons.
- 2.5 billion people in China and India have recently started buying cars and using home heating oil. That increasing global demand for oil.
- Environmental restrictions have made it more difficult and expensive to extract oil from the ground and refine it.
- Environmental regulations have also made it more difficult and expensive to transport oil around the globe.
- The dollar has dropped so even if oil prices stay the same petroleum products still become more expensive to U.S. consumers.
- There are many more reasons why oil costs will likely continue to increase over the next few decades. War, disease, political strife, religious strife, terrorism, etc.
If oil prices increase, then home heating costs will also increase and it makes sense to build an energy efficient log home to save money in the long term. There are many easy and fairly inexpensive things you can do to reduce heating and cooling costs:
- Build a square home because it’s the most energy efficient shape (least exposed exterior surface area to interior cubic feet).
- Over insulate your ceiling and floor (also your exterior wall for a stick frame home). Code just specifies a ‘minimum’ requirement, so exceed the minimum.
- Use spray in expanding foam insulation because it is very effective. It costs a bit more, but spending more on insulation upfront will help you save money forever on monthly bills.
- Use larger diameter logs so you have more thermal mass in your log home. Log homes are extremely good performers in general (often performing 2.5 times better than stick frame homes), and they do even better with larger logs.
- Use principles of passive heating and cooling to take advantage of the changing seasons and the sun’s heat. (a topic we cover at our log home class). Just by orienting your house properly, or planting certain trees on your property, you can greatly reduce heating and cooling costs.
- Install a high quality skylight to help provide natural light in your home. Having natural light in your log home means you might use less electricity.
- Augment grid power by adding an alternative power source (solar panels, micro-hydro, wind power, etc.). Often times you can get free money from the government for solar panels and wind turbines.
- Use radiant floor heat, which tends to make people feel warmer while keeping the thermostat at lower temperatures.
- Some LHBA students use a wood fired boiler for their radiant floor heat, or they are using a masonry stove, to keep their heating mechanism ‘off grid.’
- Some LHBA students completely off grid using alternative means to supply heating and electricity, like solar and wind power.
- Look at the possibility of using LEDs to meet at least some of your lighting needs, rather than fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. LEDs use a fraction of the electricity compared to traditional bulbs, and last for 20,000 to 50,000 hours of continuous use.
These are just a few ideas that you can use to save tons of money on heating and cooling costs.
Who knows if peak oil theory is really true, but really that hardly matters. It seems indisputable that oil costs will rise over the next 10 to 20 years no matter what, so you might as well start thinking with a peak oil mindset.
It makes sense to build your own log home that will help reduce your future heating and cooling costs. Because a properly designed and built log home can perform 2.5 times better than a stick frame home of the same size and design. Now that’s turbo charging your energy savings plan!