Cracks and Drafts: Your Old House and Energy Efficiency

Cracks and Drafts: Your Old House and Energy Efficiency

There are a number of obvious differences between an old and a new house, but even if your older-style property doesn’t have an updated heating system, it might have thicker walls and heavier windows, which can help to a point.

Here is a look at how to try and deal with cracks and drafts and ways to improve energy efficiency in your historic or older home.

Unique features

If you own a home that was built in a different era, it not only has plenty of unique features and character, it also means that it was constructed using different techniques and materials that may not now be used in modern housebuilding.

Understanding these unique features will help you to make the right decisions in trying to improve the energy-efficiency of your house.

For example, if you live in a house that is dates back to the 1850’s or before, it is more than likely to have post and beam construction as opposed to the balloon framing that came along later. This will affect your ability to add insulation to your walls, and that can be an issue when you also consider that older houses were not built with much insulation, other than very thick walls.

Modern cooling and ventilation systems

Adding insulation to the wall cavities without paying attention to how an old house functions in the absence of a modern cooling and ventilation system can create high moisture levels and problems with mold and rot.

This is why you need the services of licensed technicians who can work out how to incorporate a system that brings your home into the modern era in terms of energy-efficiency but without losing its original characteristics and ability to function properly.

Making the most of what you have

If you live in an older house you probably love all of its character and features, but wouldn’t mind adding some energy saving features that are more in keeping with modern properties.

The fundamental point to remember is that older houses do actually have many inherent sustainable features and the main difference is that they don’t rely on automated or mechanized heating and cooling systems.

High ceilings allow hot air to rise and this can promote air circulation. Chimneys often run through the center of an old house in areas where the climate is colder, and this allows heat to radiate through the rooms more easily. Make sure your chimney has no issues and is inspected regularly.

Although it is ok to try and make the most of what you have to work with, it is important to remember that a house can made more energy-efficient regardless of how old it is.

Get an energy audit

A good way to start is to arrange an energy audit to be carried out on your property.

You might find that your local government or utilities company even offers a free audit, but if this is not the case, try to find a company that understands how older buildings work and are not driven by trying to sell one particular product at the end of the survey.

In addition to getting an energy audit, you can carry out some basic tasks yourself such as looking for any gaps or cracks that might be letting cold air in and hot air out.

Above all, always try to take the view that no matter how old your property is, it is perfectly feasible to expect to be able to improve its energy-efficiency performance.

Sonia W. Terranova works as an energy efficiency specialist. She enjoys sharing her energy industry insights online. Her posts are available mainly on energy and home improvement blog sites.