Energy Efficiency for Older Homes

Do you live in an older or “historic” home? If so, you might be concerned about lowering your energy bills and making decisions about the long-term maintenance of your home—including energy efficiency. There are a lot of considerations that go into maintaining historic homes because they were constructed using unique and varied materials.

It is important to note that homes like these were built using different standards than are common today, which sometimes requires a significant amount of research be done or professionals hired to determine how to best increase your energy efficiency.

Older homes usually have many properties that naturally increase their energy efficiency, including:

  • Thick walls
  • Operable windows and shutters
  • Vents
  • Awnings, porches, and other natural ways to provide natural shade and cooling

Many older homes were built to naturally have manual heating, cooling, and ventilation systems, which can vary greatly depending on the typical weather of the region. Here are some unique qualities that your old home might have:

Warm climates:

  • Exterior balconies, porches, wide roof overhangs, and awnings
  • Vents and shutters to let air circulate naturally
  • Light colors used to reflect the sun and cool the house
  • High ceilings that let hot air rise

Colder climates:

  • A roof that’s angled to keep snow from building up.
  • Chimneys, fireplaces, or stoves set in the middle of a home to provide heat to the entire house.

Any Climate:

  • Thick walls that work well to both heat and cool homes. These walls absorb sunlight during the day and transfer it slowly to the inside, heating the home during the evening.

However, that is not to say that older homes are objectively better in terms of energy efficiency. There are many ways to improve the energy efficiency of older homes that cater specifically to their dated designs. Conducting an energy audit on your home is a great way to determine how your home can be made more energy efficient. For dated homes, it is a good idea to hire a company to perform this audit, especially one that is familiar with older designs.

For more energy advice on caring for older homes, check out the EPA’s website.