One of the most aesthetically pleasing things about living in Cincinnati is the city’s beautiful architecture. The Cincinnati area is full of historic neighborhoods and old homes in styles ranging from Federal and Greek Revival to Art Deco. But the beauty of these houses comes at a cost. During both winter and summer, homeowners can pay a hefty price to keep them comfortable.
A conundrum for owners of older Cincinnati area residences, then, is boosting energy efficiency without sacrificing their homes’ historic character. Can it even be done? It sure can!
Begin by focusing on what’s already in place. Without today’s conveniences, older homes were built with energy-efficiency in mind. Your house might have a front porch where generations caught cool breezes on summer afternoons and evenings. Fireplaces weren’t added just for eye appeal, but also for warmth, Today, they can be modified with gas inserts. Thick brick walls in many Cincinnati homes can still serve as thermal insulation. But thanks to advancements in building materials and a better understanding of energy efficiency, you can upgrade your older home without sacrificing any of its character.
Start with an energy audit, preferably one done by a contractor who’s familiar with older homes and dedicated to preserving them. You can be assured that his recommendations will be sensitive to your desire to respect your home’s architecture. His recommendations may include:
- Sealing air leaks: Many common sources of air leaks, such as those around door frames and windows, can be fixed easily with caulk and weatherstripping. This won’t detract from your home’s appearance.
- Upgrading your heating and cooling system: An energy-efficient furnace can significantly lower your heating costs — but only if you have done what you can to lower your heating load. Although you might be reluctant to tear out your prized plaster walls to add insulation, attic insulation can be added or upgraded without undoing your home’s appearance. While you’re at it, seal and insulate your ductwork. Central air conditioning for an older home can be tricky, as the upstairs ductwork is often insufficient. For the upstairs, consider installing a ductless mini-split system.
- Replacing your water heater: Hot water accounts for a large part of your energy bills. Replacing your water heater — or even insulating it, if your warranty permits — can help you take charge of your utility bills.
- Focusing on your windows. Many preservationists advise against replacing windows, as they are prized historic features, and the wood is often old-forest and weather-resistant. Instead, consider low-E or laminated glass storm windows, which can resist infiltration as efficiently as replacement windows.
By following steps such as these, you’ll be able to save significantly on a home that meets modern energy-saving standards while retaining its historic charm. For more expert advice about boosting energy efficiency in your home — whether it’s old or new — contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling & Plumbing. Serving the greater Cincinnati area, we’re always happy to help.
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