Older homes have charm, character, craftsmanship, and sturdy construction. But for all their attractions, they can also be drafty, expensive to heat, and difficult to cool. If you’re the type that can’t resist a house that reminds you of your great-grandma’s place, we’ve got some top ways to increase energy efficiency in older homes.
Get an Energy Audit
It’s easy to make assumptions about where an older home may be losing energy. The truth is, many older homes were designed with considerations for comfort: carefully positioned trees to provide shade along with porches, shutters, or awnings to offer fresh air, shelter from the sun, and protection from drafts. Invest in a professional energy audit to identify the areas in the home that actually need attention. It will save you money in the long run.
Insulate and Seal
It’s a pretty safe bet that an old house that hasn’t been upgraded recently hasn’t benefited from advances in insulation and sealants. Add insulation to the attic and seal cracks around the foundation, doors, and windows.
Use Storm Windows
Speaking of windows, your first instinct might be to replace them all. But a full replacement of all the windows in an old home with energy-efficient, double-paned windows can very expensive. It will be worth it if you plan to stay in the home for several years, but you may have an alternative: storm windows. If the windows in the home close and lock without gaps, an interior or exterior storm window can block energy loss and reduce drafts.
Upgrade Your HVAC System
Arguably, the top way to increase energy efficiency in an older home is to upgrade the HVAC system. From tankless water heaters to mini-split heating and cooling systems, there are more choices than ever to make heating and cooling an older home more efficient. The climate where you live will play a major part in your decision of what type of system to buy. Furthermore, many older homes—particularly those with plaster walls—lack ductwork. The good news is that there are ductless systems you can install with minimal disruption to your walls.
You can also remotely set programmable thermostats to reduce the temperature when you’re not home and gently bring it back up when you’re on your way home again.
Install LEDs with Motion-Detecting Switches
Energy-efficient LED lights can save you a lot of energy and save money on replacement bulbs, as they last for years—in some cases 10 or more. Add motion-detecting light switches, and you may never again have to make the bedtime march through the house to turn off the lights (after you asked the kids and they forgot).
We hope these tips for improving energy efficiency will help you enjoy your new old house!
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