If you own a home in a historic area, you will want to (and may be required to) preserve its traditional appearance. However, this doesn't mean that your beautiful old house can't also be energy efficient. It takes finding the right contractor, but if you carefully and systematically go about upgrading your older home, you can have both energy efficiency and historical charm. However, there are several things you need to do to make this happen.
Perform an Energy Audit
The first step in this process is to call in an experienced contractor to carry out an energy audit. The purpose of this audit is to find any problem areas in your home. It's essential to locate a contractor with experience who understands older homes and their special problems. This contractor will not only appreciate your desire to protect the historically important features of your home, but will make recommendations that take your particular situation into account.
Three Specific Areas to Evaluate
Any older home is going to differ a great deal from a new one in a number of ways. But the following three areas are ones that are particularly important when evaluating energy usage in older homes.
1. The HVAC System
In your older home, your heating and cooling system may well be outdated and in poor condition. Upgrading to a modern, high-efficiency furnace can significantly reduce your heating bills. If your older home totally lacks air conditioning, it may be difficult to add a conventional system, since the ductwork on the upper floors may be insufficient or nonexistent. A good alternative to tearing out the walls in a historic home is to install a ductless mini split. Consult with an HVAC contractor like Lakeside Heating & A/C Inc. for more help.
2. Your Insulation
In many older homes, there is very little insulation (in some cases, none at all). Trying to cool or heat a home with little or no insulation is an enormous waste of your energy dollars. Fortunately, it's fairly simple to add batt insulation in the attic that will make a big difference in your monthly energy bills. In addition, instead of ripping out your walls to add insulation, you can hire a contractor to inject expanding foam insulation through small holes that are easily repaired.
3. Areas with Air Leaks
During the inspection, one of the most important things to look for is air leaks. Leaks located around doors and windows can be sealed with a caulking gun or weatherstripping, which will not significantly affect the appearance of your older home. You should also look for leaks in locations where pipes, cables and other features pass through the walls, sealing these with expanding foam. Finally, any ductwork in your home should also be carefully inspected for leaks and sealed with either metallic foil tape or mastic.