A cabin is an exciting home away from home where you can relax, enjoy the outdoors and have the time of your life! Building one is a less than thrilling step, but still a great movement forward towards this dream. Unfortunately, not every cabin is created equally.
Energy efficiency is a major consideration many forget about when building their own. Keeping it in mind can save you untold amounts of money, while also helping your cabin have as low impact on the environment around it as possible.
Consider following these tips when you’re ready to build!
Most cabins are an escape away from everyday life. Whether you need a break from working the farm, or you’re trying to get away from the heat of where you live, it’s a chance to relax. The last thing you want to worry about is if the cabin will be warm or cool enough.
Insulation is a must because it helps trap the temperatures you want inside. Remember to also include the best insulation for exterior walls you can, since this will be your cabin’s first line of defense against the cold.
Planning for Placement and Orientation
When deciding where to set your cabin, keep in mind the history of the land it’s on, where the sun will rise and set in each season, and how you’ll access the property. If this is an area that gets multiple feet of snow over a couple of days, consider how you can clear a path, or what way would be easiest for emergency services to reach you.
Although some like the idea of being off the grid, nobody wants to find out an ambulance couldn’t get to them because their home is three miles into a forest with no clear path or road.
Windows and Their Placement
Where you place your windows and doors will not only decide your views, but will also decide how much natural sunlight and heat the property will get. Make sure your windows are sturdy and well-sealed, since these are one of the top places where homes lose heat in the winter.
If you want large beautiful windows, make sure you have something in mind for covering them while you’re not in the building. Although the view is fantastic while you’re there, you don’t want anyone who wanders onto your property to see everything you own.
The Best Siding Possible
A popular style for cabins in 2023 is steel board and batten siding. Not only does it block moisture and weather, but it also draws eyes upward and makes the building look taller. There’s also vinyl log cabin siding, which looks close to the real thing, while also giving you protection from moisture, and far less work than a natural wood log cabin would, even with cedar.
If you can insulate between your siding and your cabin itself, that’s always a great idea since it will create another layer of protection from the elements.
Fireplaces are an iconic part of cabin design, but it's vital to consider if your fireplace is just for looks, or if you're actually intending on heating an area of the home with it. In many cases, especially if your fireplace is gas-fueled, it can actually suck the heat from the rest of the house, funneling it up through the chimney. This isn't a huge deal if you're heating a small cabin, but if you have a large one it can make it expensive to heat through your HVAC system.
If you install a fireplace, you don’t have to necessarily install it on an outer wall, just make sure there’s an area with enough space for ventilation. This needs to be maintained and checked every year.
Stopping Moisture Buildup
Moisture can wreak havoc on a cabin, especially if you’re off the property for months at a time. It’s vital to seal out as much moisture as possible through every step of building your cabin. Vapor barrier tape is one of the most important tools you should have in your arsenal. This tape can stop moisture from getting through from showers, sinks, pipes, and more instead of leading to rot.
Adding Solar Paneling
Solar paneling isn’t cost effective in some cases, but when it comes to a small property like a cabin, if you can store energy you could almost live entirely off of solar panels. When building your property, if you’re planning on solar panels from the beginning, try to point the angle of your cabin people won’t see when they’re approaching towards the west. This will allow you to gather solar power without it being the first thing visitors see.
Your Cabin Should Make the Lowest Impact Possible
A cabin is a piece of property that gets you as close to camping as possible while getting to enjoy the heater in the dead of winter. Consider following some of these tips, and you can build the most energy efficient cabin possible!