Increasing energy efficiency in historic buildings is always a hot topic. Here are our Top Six Tips for improving the energy efficiency in historic buildings:
Have a Maintenance Appraisal Performed to Increase the Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings
When not properly maintained, there are many ways energy efficiency in historic buildings suffers – one of which are air leaks into and out of the home. A maintenance appraisal performed by a qualified contractor will locate any source of air leakage and provide you with a plan-of-attack to remedy the leakage without damaging the historic aspects of your home.
Schedule an Energy Audit to Increase the Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings
This could really be tie for the #1 spot – both the maintenance appraisal and an energy audit are absolutely essential things that need to be done BEFORE you implement any energy-improvement measures. The energy audit will evaluate current energy efficiency in your historic building and identify any deficiencies in both the envelope of your home and/or the mechanical systems.
Implement a Maintenance Plan to Increase the Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings
After you have these two critical reports in your hand, set to work implementing them. Hire a qualified contractor to eliminate any air infiltration, repair windows, and perform the other maintenance affecting your home’s energy efficiency. Hire a qualified energy contractor to replace any mechanical systems they’ve found to be detrimental to your home’s energy efficiency. Make sure both of these contractors have a proven track record of working with historic buildings in a way that does not damage the architecture and its features. Maintenance is one of the most critical aspects of improving the energy efficiency of historic buildings.
Change Your Habits to Increase the Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings
This can be the toughest one to do, but if we truly want to increase the energy efficiency of historic buildings then our habits have to change. Some of these changes can be easy – install timers or motion detectors on lights, attach self-closing mechanisms on doors that might otherwise hag open, install fans and raise the thermostat temperature, use CFLs in your lights, unplug “vampire” devices that use electricity in standby mode or whenever they are plugged into an outlet (most chargers, DVD players, etc.).
Install Insulation to Increase the Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings
Installing insulation in strategic places can be a cost-effective solution to energy loss – but make sure you are not installing the insulation in ineffective places and ways. There is a lot of misinformation floating around out there of the best ways to insulate your house, and some of them can even permanently damage your home. Have the historic contractor and energy consultant you hire work together to devise an insulation plan specifically tailored to increase the energy efficiency of your historic building that won’t compromise its architectural integrity.
Use Shading Devices to Increase the Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings
There are several ways you can make use of shading devices in ways that are historically compatible to increase the energy efficiency of historic buildings. Many historical homes made use of exterior awnings and if there is evidence your home may have originally had awnings you can consider installing them again. Some homes may still have their awnings on them – if yours does, maintain it well for maximum benefit. Trees, bushes, and other foliage are another good way to shade your home during the summer to increase energy efficiency if you have the space. As is hanging drapes and curtains on any windows receiving direct sunlight and keeping them closed during the sunlight hours.
The Technical Preservation Service at the National Park Service offers Preservation Brief #3: Improving Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings that provides an in-depth look at this topic. You can read the brief online at: nps.gov/tps/how-to-preserve/briefs/3-improve-energy-efficiency.htm