Some people like everything brand new, and when it comes to finding a home, turn-key is the operative feature they’re seeking. Others can’t stand the look of featureless, cookie-cutter homes. If you fall into the latter school of thought, then the character and charm offered by older homes is probably right up your alley. Unfortunately, there are trade-offs when you decide to eschew new construction. While you might get a better deal on the sticker price, you’ll almost certainly have to deal with a variety of common upgrades and repairs, including electrical, plumbing, and structural concerns. Unfortunately, many older homes were also not built with energy conservation in mind. And even if they were, the ravages of time have likely caused some energy-saving components to deteriorate. But there are steps you can take to conserve energy when you opt to live in an older home. Here are some conservation tips that are sure to lower your bills and meet your eco-friendly standards.
- Add or replace insulation. One of the biggest problems when it comes to energy efficiency in older homes is insulation. Over time it can settle and deteriorate. But there are also modern products that trump even the best insulative methods of old. So if you’ve noticed drafts and problems regulating your interior temperature, you may want to add some batting in the basement and attic and think about tearing out walls to install spray foam insulation. This modern method not only provides a barrier between your interior and the air outside, but it also seals leaks where your bought air could be getting out.
- Check the chimney. Many old chimneys have deteriorated liners because modern homeowners don’t realize they need to be maintained. Some don’t even have liners to begin with. And over time, your house can settle, causing the flue damper to become loose or unseated. All of these issues can turn your chimney into a major point of ingress for outside air, tanking your energy efficiency in the process and leading to higher heating and cooling bills. So if you’re drawn to the charm of older homes, don’t forget to check the chimney.
- Consider radiant floor heating. If you happen to have a boiler system and radiators already in place, as many older homes do, you might want to think about the benefits of installing a system for radiant floor heating. Since heat rises and many flooring surfaces (particularly stone) are perfect for holding and emitting heat over an extended period of time, this is a great option for heating your home with less energy usage.
- Install a programmable thermostat. You might not be keen to jump through the hoops necessary to turn your old home into a smart home, but you can definitely conserve energy by upgrading your outdated, dial thermostat to a digital, programmable model. By scheduling your thermostat to adjust during times when your family is away at work or school, you can significantly reduce unnecessary energy waste.
- Upgrade the HVAC. Some older homes don’t even have a central air system, in which case you may find yourself comparing ductless systems to traditional heat pumps. But if your house features a full HVAC system, you should definitely look into the possibility of upgrading your heating and air conditioning equipment to modern, energy-efficient models as a way to conserve and save money down the line.