If you’re one of the many people who have bought or are thinking about buying an older home this spring, one of the things that you’re likely concerned about is heating and cooling your potential home during the year. Because older homes were not built to the same standards that are required for new buildings, there is a huge discrepancy between the energy efficiency of a newly constructed home and one that is twenty or more years old.
While many older homes have had some sort of renovations or upgrades done to them in the past, many upgrades may not sufficiently solve the problem of inadequate energy efficiency; other “upgrades” may actually be detrimental to a home if not constructed properly.
One of your first lines of attack on energy inefficiency is insulation. Many older homes are just not insulated to the same level that newly built homes are, both in the attic and the walls. To add insulation to your home there are a few options; you can lay bats of fibreglass insulation in your attic but the easiest way to add insulation to walls is often to have a hole cut and insulation blown into the walls.
Another area that you can improve to keep the warm air in your home is by upgrading the windows. Your options are to either upgrade to double or triple pane windows or to invest in storm windows. Storm windows are often a better choice if your home is quite old and you are looking to keep the vintage feel of the architecture; the energy efficiency of storm windows over single pane windows is very good if you buy a quality storm window as well.
Many of these solutions to make a home more energy efficient focus on making a home more air-tight, keeping the warm air inside and the cold air outside where it belongs. While reducing the drafts is a good way to keep the heat in your home, one of the problems that can arise with this solution is that when you create a tighter envelope on an older home there is nowhere for the moisture to go and no fresh air is drawn into the home.
If you are planning on making your home more air-tight, you will need to ensure that you make plans to also upgrade the ventilation in your home and consider a dehumidifier to keep the moisture levels at reasonable levels. It is a good idea to at least discuss what solutions you will need on these two fronts with a contractor; different areas will have different needs in moisture management. Don’t forget when you work through your eco-friendly upgrades to inquire about what kinds of tax rebates are available in your area as well. Many kinds of energy efficient renovations can get you a hefty tax break.
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