Old and historic homes are often some of the most beautiful structures out there today. Classic construction, architecture, and eye catching details are often highly desired by homeowners. The phrase “they just don’t build them like they used to” sometimes has a great deal of merit when it comes to these beautiful homes. However, these homes can also pose some serious issues when it comes to home performance and energy efficiency.

 

While it may seem like the process of increasing efficiency in this type of home without ruining its historic nature is a daunting task, there are many things that can be done to increase the performance of the home without giving up on the things that give the home its character.

 

Many historic homes were actually built with their climate in mind. Homebuilders used construction and architectural tricks to keep the home more comfortable when it needed it the most. Whether it was the positioning of the house, the use of balconies and porches to minimize the impact of the sun, etc., comfort was considered, even if efficiency was not.

 

Unfortunately, the importance of energy efficiency increased as technology like air conditioning was introduced, and is even more important as energy costs continue to increase. If you find yourself in this situation, the best first step is to have a full home energy audit to identify the problems. Some common problems (and solutions) in older and historic homes include:

 

·      Air leaks. Leaks around doors, windows and other trouble areas such as attics and foundation areas can cause big problems when it comes to home performance. Identifying these problem areas by advanced tests such as a blower door test can allow us to fix the problem at its root.

·      Insulate. You can often find some interesting insulation materials in your older home—from newspapers to corn stalks. Insulating your home with modern and efficient materials can be a big improvement.

·      Replacement windows. A great deal of energy is often lost through old and outdated windows in historic homes. Full replacements can be expensive, especially if you want to preserve the character of the home. The installation of window inserts such as Indow Windows can cut down your energy bills in a big way while preserving the home’s historic architecture and character.

·      Hot water heater. Older homes often have ancient hot water heat systems. They typically uses about 13 percent of the home’s energy on average. Replacing this system can save you big in an older home.

·      Heating & Cooling System. Does your historic home still have its historic boiler or oil heating system? It might be a good idea to think about upgrading this system to a more efficient system. Upgrading the heating and cooling “bones” of your house can greatly increase the overall performance while keeping its character intact.

 

There are certainly many things you can do to upgrade the performance of your historic home while still preserving its history and character. If you’d like to start the path toward turning your historic home into a more energy efficient system, give us a call today.

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