Older homes may have their architectural charm but when it comes to energy usage, they can be anightmare. In the twentieth century, "the ecology" was a fad promotedby fringe groups in the late 1960s, and it wasn't until almost 20 years laterthat many people started taking energy conservation seriously. This newfound eco-consciousness began showing up in building trends and construction methods. With modern construction, conservation is often one of the most important considerations when designing buildings, resulting in significant energy savings.
Heating and Air Conditioning
Today's heating and cooling systems are worlds away from those of the past century. Modern furnaces, especially those that have earned the Energy Star designation, can save you up to $200 a year in energy costs compared to older systems. Every system, old or new, will need regular maintenance but today's systems are much less expensive to maintain. The old "octopus" furnace in the basement is gone, replaced by a smaller, more efficient unit that takes much less effort to care for.
The best way to lower your heatingand cooling costs is to properly insulate your home. According to the Department of Energy, most older homes aren't insulated up to today's standards and require additional insulation in order to make them energy efficient. You can see real energy savings by adding more insulation to parts of your home that are already insulated, but the real savings come when you insulate previously bare areas. Search out hidden spots where you lose heat think uninsulated floors in the crawl space, ductwork that runs through an unheated area of the house, and in doorway seals. Your home will more easily stay at a comfortable temperature, and your bills will stay within your budget.
People who own older homes employ all sorts of techniques for sealing out cold air in the winter, from shrink-wrapping windows to laying old-school draft snakes in front of doors. Builders in the early 20thcentury simply didn't have the technology to seal homes as efficiently as they do today, leaving older homes more prone to energy loss through various air leaks. According to ENERGY STAR, almost 20 percent of the air is lost in the average home through leaks and poorly sealed ducts. With today's construction and design, not only is the actual structure of the building itself more airtight, ductwork going through walls is sealed more thoroughly. Efficient duct systems means that your furnace and air conditioner won't have to work as hard. This translates to lower monthly energy costs as well as less wear and tear on the machines themselves.
Double-paned windows didn't come into popular use until the middle of the last century, leaving many homes in the country with sources of massive energy leaks in every room. Today's windows are not only constructed better they are double- or triple-glazed, have protective coatings to prevent condensation, and can even reduce the amount of UV light that is allowed into your home. This means less fading on your furniture, artwork, and wallpaper. More advanced windows are vacuum sealed with inert gas in between the panes, reducing the chance of condensation between the panes as well as the amount of energy loss.
New homes often come with major appliances installed, and modern, energy efficient models can save homeowners hundreds of dollars a year. High efficiency stoves, refrigerators, washing machines, and other large appliances are often the same price as older models or slightly more pricey, but they can pay for themselves in just a few years in utility bill savings. Plus, they improve the homeowner's quality of life: more efficient appliances make the environment healthier, and they'll save you money on water, gas, and electric bills.
While the cost of a new home might be off-putting at first, they become more and more attractive when you start to factor in your daily savings in energy and bills.