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Improve Energy-Efficiency in an Old House

Improve Energy-Efficiency in an Old House

Older homes have charm that many newer residences do not. However, they’re often not as energy-efficient as they could be. Here are seven tips to help you make your old house more environmentally friendly and less costly, too.

Make Your Doors and Windows Energy-Efficient

Windows and doors are one place where older homes tend to lose heat or air conditioning. Ideally, replace your windows with thermal models, and use storm doors or similar efficient versions to prevent energy loss. If that’s not in your budget, make sure they’re sealed properly with tight-fitting weather stripping, caulk, or insulating foam, and use window treatments that add energy protection.

Ensure the House Is Properly Insulated

Next to doors and windows, poorly insulated areas of the home are the other greatest way energy is lost. Attics, north-facing walls, and spots that get a lot of wind exposure are usually the biggest culprits.

If you’re not sure about your insulation, a specialist can evaluate your house and make suggestions. These days, there are many easy options to add insulation without doing major renovations.

Remember to insulate pipes, too. Pipes under cabinets, along cold walls, and in crawl spaces can lose energy spent on creating hot water and radiator steam. Even worse, they can be subject to bursting if they freeze.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat is a terrific way to cut energy wasted on heat or air conditioning. It allows you to set your interior temperature based on when you’ll be home or awake, with no manual adjustment required.

You can set your thermostat to lower the heat when you go to work and turn it back on half an hour before you arrive home, for example. You can do the same thing at night, reducing the temperature during sleep time and raising it right before you get up in the morning. Similarly, do the opposite with your AC during the summer.

Reduce Unnecessary Electricity Use

Most people use more electricity than they need because they don’t think about it. Tips to reduce your electric bill particular to an older home include:

  • Adding automatic light switches or dimmer switches
  • Updating service panels and electrical wiring
  • Installing timers, photocells, or motion sensors for outside lights
  • Replacing old appliances with Energy Star models, especially refrigerators
  • Lowering the heat or using a programmable thermostat, as above, if you have electric heat

Switch to LED Light Bulbs

If you’re still using old-fashioned incandescent bulbs, you’ll want to switch over to LED versions. These bulbs use considerably less electricity because they don’t get as hot to create light. While they cost a bit more upfront, they last hundreds or even thousands of hours longer than incandescents, so over time, you save money.

Don’t Forget Your Garage

Garages are one place where energy is often wasted, especially in older homes. As well as improving the insulation there, you want to check on the efficiency of the door. Adding an automatic opener/closer can ensure no one leaves the door open in winter. And you should invest in the best garage door you can afford, preferably an insulated one if you live in a very cold or very hot area.

Try Smart Home Controls

Just because you live in an old house doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of modern technology. Smart home controls, whether via a dedicated home hub or your smartphone, let you manage your home’s energy efficiency with just your fingertips. Many of these are now integrated with HVAC systems or security programs offered by mobile phone carriers.

You’ll appreciate being able to raise and lower your thermostat from anywhere at all, even if you’re not home. Forgot to turn down the furnace? No problem. And you can double-check your garage door and turn off the lights while you’re away, saving energy and maybe your bank account, too.