Weatherization is the process of making buildings more energy efficient and saves energy in the home and improves the home as well. Older homes can have small or large changes done to make them more energy efficient and comfortable for any family throughout the year. Today we are used to controlled temperature and humidity throughout our buildings, while homes built before that was common were built in an entirely different way. Putting modern equipment and practices into older homes can be done, but done carefully to ensure that the home retains its features and does not cause more problems in the future.
Older homes were built to work in their environment and so already have a level of energy efficiency that can be utilized by residents. Wall thickness, window shutters, exterior paint, roof pitch, landscaping, etc. all went into creating a home that kept the residents warm in the winter and cool in the summers without central heat and air conditioning.
Something to keep in mind when making changes on your older home is if the changes can be reversed. From the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation: preserve the historic character of the home, the distinctive elements of craftsmanship and construction techniques that characterize the home should be preserved, repair instead of replace when possible, and think to whomever is living in the home in 50, 80, 100 years and if they can remove whatever changes you’ve made and still retain the historic character and integrity of the home.
These tips can be simple and inexpensive ways to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter:
- A working fireplace needs a working damper. A properly fitted fireplace damper will prevent air leaks & heat loss, when closed and not in use, and keep smoke moving, when open and a fire is burning.
- Establish climate zones by heating or cooling the rooms most in use
- Install a programmable thermostat
- Clean radiators and registers
- Clean and service boiler and furnace once a year
- Use shutters & awnings to shade the house from the sun
- Maintain plaster walls - they help keep your home at a constant temperature
- Maximize your home's engineered cross breeze by utilizing the upper and lower sash windows and screened doors
- Be sure your attic is vented properly
- Consider a whole house exhaust fan
- The incorporation of natural sunlight to light a room is an easy way to help bring warmth inside.
- Older buildings also have better thermal inertia, meaning it takes them longer to heat up and to cool down. You can use this to your advantage by letting the sunlight in during the day during cold weather and using heavy curtains at night.
- Conversely, keeping the sunlight out in the warm months will help keep the interior cooler. Older homes incorporated porches, pergolas and awnings for this very reason. Planting trees on the south side of your house can also help produce cooling shade in the warm months.
- ENERGY STAR qualified appliances are more efficient and use less water than standard models, helping homeowners save money on utility bills.
- WaterSense products are 20% more efficient and often rank higher in performance testing than their conventional counterparts. High efficiency toilets (HETs), faucets, showerheads and irrigation related products and services are all incorporated in the WaterSense Program.
- Additionally to decrease your home's water usage, consider using: Native/natural landscaping, Rain barrels and/or cisterns, Aerators, and High Efficiency Clothes Washer (HEW).
- Insulate pipes and ductwork when possible.
- Consider high efficiency HVAC systems including geothermal.