Tricks of the Trade

REScheck logo.

REScheck is software designed to compute an energy compliance analysis that is needed for building permit applications. It is developed and distributed by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Building and is available to be downloaded and installed to your desktop or you can access the web version directly online.

Builders, Designers, Contractors, Inspectors

Using REScheck makes it easy for log home builders and inspectors to quickly determine if a cabin meets the code. It does this by comparing the total heat loss of your log cabin design against the total heat loss of a building that conforms to the building requirements. If your number doesn’t exceed the baseline number, your log home design passes and the program generates a report declaring that your cabin is compliant with the code.

Each part of the log building assembly has to be entered manually into the program, where it uses a simple U-factor x Area (UA) to determine heat loss. This gives you the ability to see how each component affects the overall heat transfer.

What is U-Factor?

U-factor is referred to as the overall coefficient of heat transfer and describes how well a building element conducts heat. A lower U-value indicates better insulating properties. U-factor is the inverse of R-value, which measures the resistance to heat flow. The units are Btu/(hr)(ft²)(°F).

  • U-factor = 1 / R-value

REScheck is particularly useful if you are designing your own log home as you get immediate feedback on the viability of using different components, such as window types and sizes. By punching in the numbers for your design you can quickly see whether you will pass the code compliance and, if necessary, change the size of a window or add insulation to your cabin roof assembly.

Where Can I Use REScheck?

REScheck can be used by most of the United States to demonstrate code compliance. There are a few states that don’t allow it (Virginia, Minnesota, California, Oregon, Alaska) and about 10 other states where the program is allowed county by county. Here’s a map showing where it’s allowed:

Map of USA showing where REScheck is valid.

REScheck makes is easy for builders, inspectors, designers and contractors to quickly determine if the log home design is energy compliant. By manipulating the various building elements you can bring your design into compliance and have a passing report printed out.

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