Heating an Alaskan Log Cabin

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When you think of Alaska, the first thing that probably comes to mind is that it’s cold. Really cold. But we manage to stay toasty warm in our home. Here’s what it’s like heating an Alaskan log cabin.

How cold does it get?

People are often asking us how cold it really gets up here. We live in the Interior of Alaska, just north of Fairbanks. Fortunately for us, our home is situated about 1500 feet up in the hills. The cold air sinks into the valley so we sit above it. This means that the temperature at our property is typically 15 to 20 degrees warmer than it is in town! That’s really convenient when the temps are down in the negative 20s and 30s. At our home, we rarely get down to negative 20 and usually sit in the negative single digits or teens during the deepest winter months.

Our log home was built almost 50 years ago but was very well made. Although the logs are on the smaller side (some log home use gigantic logs, which helps them to stay warmer) ours is well insulated. The logs are tightly packed and we have no issues with drafts or losing heat.

How do you stay warm?

This is another question that we often hear. My husband teases me because I tell people it’s a “dry cold” so it’s not as bad as you think. I grew up in Minnesota, which is a damp, wet cold. This type of cold leaves you feeling chilled to the bone, in my opinion. Here in Alaska, though, it’s so dry that you don’t feel it as deeply.

But, it gets very cold here, there’s no denying that. And when it’s cold outside, you want to be warm and toasty inside. Heating an Alaskan log cabin takes effort but the reward of coziness and warmth is well worth it.

Heating With a Wood Stove

It doesn’t seem like any log cabin, especially in Alaska, would be complete without a woodstove. We were fortunate that a previous owner put in a new one not long before we bought the house. It’s a Blaze King Princess, an excellent wood stove, and we love it.

The woodstove is the center of our home. It is right in the middle of the kitchen, dining room, and living area so we are always gathered around it. In the winter, our days begin with firing it up and they end with turning it down for the night.

There’s nothing quite like coming inside from below zero temperatures to warm up in front of the fire. Or end the day by sitting near it, spending time together, or reading a favorite book. We couldn’t imagine our home without it.

Gathering Wood

It takes a lot of wood to heat an Alaskan log cabin throughout the long winter. There are two options for getting that wood. Cut it yourself or buy it from one of the several local businesses that sell wood up here. We do both.

Because my husband is still on Active Duty in the military, his free time is limited. With so many projects to be done around our property, we have to pick and choose how we tackle them.

It takes many hours over many days to cut and stack enough wood. For the season our family is in right now, we often purchase cut firewood from a local business and have it delivered. Then all we have to do is stack it and we’re all set for the winter.

While chopping up your own firewood is free and only requires an investment of time, having firewood delivered can be very expensive. We go through about two cords of wood in a winter, which costs around $700. It is mainly Birch with some Spruce mixed in.

Heating With Oil

Our log home is equipped with radiators as well that use heating oil. We have a 500-gallon oil tank underground that we keep filled. This helps heat our home along with our woodstove. We keep the thermostat set at around 65 degrees and the heat from the woodstove brings the temperature in our home over 70.

We have our own oil tank that we load into the back of our pick-up and fill it at the bulk heating oil station. Then we transfer the oil into the underground tank when we get home. This saves a lot of money as having heating oil delivered is costly.

Because of air quality issues, there are often burn bans in place during certain times in winter. This means that we can sometimes be limited until the air clears up. Having the radiators as backup heat is important.

However, if we lose power, which happens a lot here, we can keep nice and warm with our woodstove until the power returns. This can take several hours or even days sometimes. It’s important to have more than one source of heat.

Heating an Alaskan Log Cabin

Just because we live in the Interior of Alaska doesn’t mean that we can’t stay warm! Thanks to our woodstove we are toasty all winter long and the atmosphere in our home is cozy and comfortable. Our woodstove warms us inside and out.

You can read about how we renovated our Alaskan log cabin here.

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