It’s Charming, But Is Your Older Home Energy Efficient Too?

Older homes may be charming, but they are often much less energy efficient than newer homes. The good news is that you don’t have to choose between charm and efficiency. Here are some ways to tell if your older home is energy efficient, and what to do if it’s not.

Find and seal air leaks

Air leaks in your home can result in high energy bills without the comfort to show for them. Unfortunately, your classy old house likely has its share of leaky areas, either as a result of an original non-airtight construction, or shifting over the years. To detect air leaks, turn off your furnace on a windy day, close your doors and windows and turn on all exhaust fans. Walk around your home with an incense stick and you’ll be able to tell leaky areas when the smoke wavers. 

  • Seal holes and cracks with caulk or spray foam. These often will occur where building materials meet or where plumbing or wiring enters the home.
  • Seal gaps between stationary parts of windows and doors with caulk, and apply foam weatherstripping at movable parts.
  • Install foam gaskets behind outlet and light switch plates on exterior walls.

Seal and insulate your ducts and hot water heater

Leaky ducts account for up to 20 percent of air loss in your home. In an older home, this can be a big problem if the original ducts are still in place. If your ducts are old, consider having them professionally tested.

  • Check your ducts for loose connections and cracks. Seal them with metal tape or mastic sealant.
  • Insulate your ducts, especially those in unconditioned areas of your home.
  • Insulate the pipes on your hot water heater to save up to 9 percent on water heating costs, and wrap an insulating blanket around the heater itself to save even more.

Insulate your attic

Older homes often have uninsulated or under-insulated attics. Fiberglass insulation should be at least 11 inches thick and loose fill should be at least 8 inches deep. R-38 insulation is recommended for most homes.

Install a programmable thermostat

A programmable thermostat will help lower your energy costs. Program your thermostat to lower your heating and cooling load at night and while you’re away.

For more advice about making your older home more energy efficient, please contact us at Overland Park Heating & Cooling. We’re here to help in the greater Kansas City area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Overland Park, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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