The beauty and charm of historic homes radiate from their unique and stately classic features. However, like the lovely but leaky original windows, many of these features are not as energy efficient as you would like. In fact, the energy bills for a historic home can be somewhat distressing. Fortunately, there are strategies for making your old home more energy efficient without compromising its authenticity.
Common Sources of Energy Loss
Inadequate insulation. Historic homes often lack adequate insulation, as they were built before high-efficiency products even existed. Every home is different, but in most houses, especially historic homes, poorly insulated attics are an energy bill nightmare. Today’s insulation options include eco-friendly and low chemical options such as cork insulation, wool insulation, blue jean insulation and fiberglass insulation.
Air leaks. Cold or hot air flowing in from outside can be a constant energy drain. Windows and doors are major sources of heat loss, but other areas such as crawl spaces, the chimney flue, attic floor spaces and even electrical outlets and mail slots all contribute to significant energy losses.
Inefficient HVAC systems. Outdated heating and cooling system are an inefficient drain on energy. Even modern systems need regular maintenance and service by professionals.
The Home Energy Audit
If you want to reduce energy use and improve your family's comfort, the best energy saving advice is to start with a home energy audit. There are two options for conducting the audit:
The Professional Energy Audit
During a professional home energy audit, the auditor will examine both the outside and inside of your house, and review past utility bills. A comprehensive audit includes checking for air leaks, examining insulation, inspecting heating and cooling equipment and ductwork, and performing a blower door test. The blower door test exposes leaks by using a device that pulls air out of the home. It is an efficient and dependable way to determine the specific locations of leakage and energy loss. The information can be used to correct air leakage, moisture condensation, drafts, and possible indoor air pollution problems. Additional information on professional home energy audits is provided online by the District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU).
Do-It-Yourself Energy Audit
Using tips from the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), you can conduct a Do-It-Yourself Audit, which will enable you to identify and correct most problem areas.
Renaissance Development, a leader in brick restoration and historic preservation, specializes in the repair and restoration of historic DC brick buildings. We love old homes and are committed to preserving their historic charm and value. If your energy audit indicates the need for masonry or brick repair, contact us for a free site visit and project quote.