Living in a historic home is both uniquely challenging and rewarding. The way in which we live today is far different from how people lived when historic homes were initially built. It is a fair assumption that most historic homeowners will want to modernize their homes to conserve energy. Fortunately, there are ways to do so that save money and do not compromise the structure’s character.
Before making any decisions, it is important to assess the home. During this process, ask the following three questions:
- What gives your home its character?
First, identify the visual aspects of the home. This could be anything from windows to chimneys to the overall architectural design. Second, examine the exterior details, like the surface quality of materials, for example. Finally, identify the visual character of interior spaces, features and finishes.
- Does your home have inherent energy efficient features?
Examples include existing storm windows and doors, wide overhanging eaves and shade trees.
- What is your home’s current energy use? A professional energy audit is recommended, as it will help measure the effectiveness of energy enhancements.
A thorough assessment of every aspect of a home is essential before considering updates.
After a close examination is completed, it is time to begin enhancements. In order to increase the effectiveness of any upgrades that are made, it is important to reduce the use of energy in your home and commit to those habits. Then, seal any gaps in the barriers of the home so that air cannot escape or enter the envelope of the house. Once energy-saving behaviors have been implemented and all barriers leading to the outdoors have been sealed, it is time to make necessary upgrades. These upgrades could include restoring historic window sashes, adding or replacing storm windows and doors, replacing the boiler or furnace, or adding solar or geothermal power to the home. Replacing material such as historic windows and doors is likely the least cost-effective method of upgrading an older home’s energy efficiency and should be done only as a last resort.
The graphic above illustrates the many ways that air can enter or escape a home.
It is possible to modernize and increase the comfort, livability and energy efficiency of a home without damaging what makes it unique. For a more in-depth explanation of energy efficiency in historic homes, read our brochure.
For more information on historic preservation, call us at 563-564-4080 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.