Living in an older home can come with all sorts of unique challenges. Energy efficiency is probably one of the biggest challenges of all. Depending on how old your home is, there can be multiple reasons it is using more energy – and potentially costing you more money – than a newly-built home might. Regardless of your home’s age, here are some of the typical ways in which an older home could be consuming more energy than is necessary:
- Older appliances and fixtures. Perhaps there’s an old fridge in your basement that came with the house, and you’re keeping it around as an extra place to store food or drinks, or perhaps you’ve kept the original toilet. Replacing them with more energy efficient versions may seem like more trouble than they’re worth, but the savings can add up quickly.
- Poorly insulated spaces. Do you sometimes feel a draft come through the attic door, or near the windows? Is the basement somewhere you actively avoid? These aren’t just inconveniences; they are most likely sources of air leakage which cause your HVAC unit to work harder than it should, in order to maintain your home’s temperature. Choosing an effective insulation which is also an air barrier, like Icynene spray foam insulation, can help reduce air loss in your home.
- Lighting. If you’re hanging on to those halogen lightbulbs for your recessed light fixtures, or a few remaining incandescent lightbulbs, you’d be surprised at how much more energy these use. Both LED and compact fluorescent bulbs are more energy efficient choices.
- Gaps and holes in your current insulation. You may not notice any specific drafts in your home, but that doesn’t mean your insulation is as effective as it could be at retaining your home’s conditioned air. Tiny gaps and holes in your home where traditional insulation cannot reach, can add up to the size of a basketball, when combined. Consider replacing your traditional insulation with spray foam insulation like Icynene, which expands to 100 times its original size, upon application to fill every nook and cranny where it is applied.
If you’ve been looking into ways to make your home more energy efficient, and perhaps save money on your monthly heating and cooling bills in the long term, you may have heard the term “sustainable design” being used. While there’s no question that it’s easiest to design a home sustainably from the very beginning, it is possible to incorporate some sustainable design elements into an older home, without completely gutting it.
Have a professional conduct an energy audit of your home.
The easiest way to find out how much energy your home is wasting is to hire a professional to help you find out. Not everyone wants to make this kind of investment, but an outside assessment can pinpoint areas of concern you might never have considered yourself.
Replace your home’s current insulation with a more energy efficient spray foam insulation, such as Icynene.
Icynene can help to reduce your home’s energy consumption by creating an effective air barrier wherever it is installed. As mentioned earlier, this is due to its ability to expand to 100 times its original size, allowing it to fill tiny gaps and cracks that traditional insulation is unable to reach.
Consider replacing some of your home’s traditional electricity consumption with solar or geothermal energy.
Even though you home may be consuming less energy, thanks to more energy efficient appliances and insulation, to make it truly sustainable it needs to be producing some of the energy it consumes, as well. When a home produces as much energy as it consumes, it is called NetZero, and this is the goal of all sustainably designed homes. Investing in a small geothermal system, solar water heater, or solar panels can offset a surprising amount of the energy your home is using.
Capitalize on passive solar design principles for your home.
Building out your home’s eaves to prevent the warmer summer sunshine from overheating your home, while still allowing the winter sun’s angle to warm your home in the winter is an example of passive solar design. In addition, proper cross-ventilation can boost your home’s ability to remain cool in summer months.
In the end, no matter how many sustainable design elements you choose to pursue for your older home, even the smallest changes can make an enormous difference in your home’s environmental footprint.
Find a licensed Icynene spray foam insulation contractor in your area, to discover more about how Icynene can be a part of the sustainable design for any home, old or new.