Old DC Houses: Go Green and Save Green

February 28, 2015
niki dube

attic window

Old DC houses have a unique character. That’s why you bought yours. The history, the detail, the status, and the opportunity to update it drew you in. You just couldn’t resist the charm… or the challenge.

Now that you’re living in the home and enduring a harsh winter, you’ve learned more about its unique character: the energy consumption, the draftiness, the old pipes, and the leaky roof. They say boats are money pits, but you think your home could win that battle.

Take a deep breath, put on your wool socks, and keep reading. You can update old DC houses, respect the environment, and save energy costs all at the same time using these three tips.

Use modern insulation standards in old DC houses

The insulation used in old DC houses, in fact the insulation used in any house built prior to 1994, has since been found to contain carcinogens like asbestos. In addition, that era of fiberglass insulation has a tendency to settle over time, decreasing in effectiveness as it does so.

This leaves you with three options for better insulation in your attic.

  • You could lay additional levels of batt insulation on top of the existing layers to reach the recommended R-levels.
  • You could replace all of the existing insulation with newer batt insulation or with spray fill or spray foam insulation that doesn’t settle.
  • You could combine the ideas and use spray fill or spray foam to add existing layers to your current insulation.

Each option offers unique benefits. All of them work to save you money by reducing energy costs, allowing your heating and air conditioning to function more efficiently.

Replace your current windows with more energy efficient models

If you notice drafts or air leaks around your windows, you could cover those windows with thicker curtains, caulk around the edges of the windows, or replace the windows with something more energy efficient. Newer windows are designed to minimize heat transfer from inside your home in the winter and from outside your home in the summer. Save the receipt because the government likes to give tax credit for energy efficient upgrades on your home.

Schedule a home energy audit

If, after tackling those two projects, you find that there is still room for improvement but you can’t quite pinpoint where, schedule a home energy audit. An auditor will use specialized equipment to determine where and how you could conserve energy. It may be that you need spray foam insulation to fill gaps in your exterior walls or weather stripping on your doors. Perhaps the furnace and hot water heater are older than you and ready for retirement.

Whatever the case, any upgrades you make in energy efficiency create a more comfortable home environment and help to save money on energy bills in the long run.

Need help deciding what to do about your insulation situation? Ask Max. He’s been restoring old houses for years and is an insulation expert.