Rustic Design Meets Healthy Home Tech

Rustic Design Meets Healthy Home Tech

Nothing refreshes the body and mind quite like the great outdoors. It’s why people go hiking, camping and buy log homes. All the more so if these homes are built with a healthy approach.

Tom Warren, co-owner of Honka USA, has a personal stake when it comes to home health. His sister had a bout with cancer, so her goal was to go all-organic from the food she eats to the home she lives in.

With the objective of constructing the healthiest home possible, her research led her to log homes. Seeing her brother was already affiliated with Honka, she turned to the log home company based in Finland.

“When you are in a wooden home, you’re inside a breathing membrane that filters bad air and turns it into good air,” Warren says. 

He adds that Japanese and European builders highlight the health factor in their homes.

Honka log home kitchen. Photo courtesy of Honka USA
Honka log home kitchen. Photo courtesy of Honka USA

Massive wood, a fire resistant material, has the unique ability to absorb moisture and release it back into the room’s air when it dries. A European study’s results show that the more massive wood there is within the house’s walls, the more balanced and optimized the inside air will remain.

The optimal indoor air humidity for health is between 30 and 55 percent. Indoor air humidity of 30 to 55 percent minimizes the growth of detrimental elements such as mold and bacteria. However, the Department of Energy recommends that moisture control techniques be used.

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Smart Ventilation System

According to the AE Analytics Energy Advantage survey, 80 percent of builders expect automated ventilation to be installed in at least one of their homes in 2016.

Utilizing a smart ventilation system, like this one from SmartVent, can create fresher, drier air. It can also remove condensation and moisture and create a healthier, more comfortable living environment.

The SmartVent Evolve system can be controlled via a tablet or with sensors. Evolve monitors both the temperature and humidity to control condensation. This air then passes through a high efficiency filter and is introduced into the home. This introduced air forces out the moist, stale air that causes condensation, mold and mildew.

Forced Air Systems Versus Radiant Heat

While some of Honka’s clients have been requesting radiant heat systems, Warren is a proponent of forced air systems.

Step Warmfloor says its radiant floor mat system uses less energy than hydronic or cable heating systems while maintaining lower ambient temperatures
Step Warmfloor says its radiant floor mat system uses less energy than hydronic or cable heating systems while maintaining lower ambient temperatures

“You can now put humidification, you can put filtration on the air, so you get a lot more things with the forced air system that you cannot do with in floor radiant heat systems,” Warren says.

A forced-air central heating system uses air as its heat transfer medium. Ducts and vents are used to distribute the air throughout the house. While filtration components can be added, the Department of Energy says these systems can distribute allergens throughout the house.

Radiant heating can be installed in floors, ceilings and even wall panels. They transfer heat directly from surfaces to people and objects. They are more expensive to install but don’t distribute allergens.

Modern Day Wood Burning Stove

Kuusikulma pizza oven fireplace. Photo courtesy of Tulikivi
Kuusikulma pizza oven fireplace. Photo courtesy of Tulikivi

Fireplaces are often used as the main heating source in log homes. Warren recalls one 6,000-square-foot Honka Home in Colorado with a Tulikivi fireplace that pulls ventilation from the outside and has a blower. The propane salesperson told him that the owner of a stick frame house half the size spends more on propane a month than the owner of the cabin spends in a year.

It also doubles as a pizza oven.

Your buyers’ health should be one of your top priorities. In the case of Warren’s sister, her log home aids in her continued triumph over cancer. There’s no greater commendation than that.

About The Author

Kelly Mello is a TecHome Builder Staff Writer, creating timely, investigative articles for its eMagazine and Special Reports. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in English: Communications & Rhetoric. She began her writing career in 2007 as editorial assistant for GateHouse Media. From 2010 to 2013, she was local editor for various Patch sites, including Norton.Patch.com.

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