Your Old House Was Designed to be Energy Efficient and Was Built to Last!
We've all heard about old, leaky buildings that waste energy but, in fact, builders of yesteryear relied on durable natural
materials and architectural features that required minimal, but routine, maintenance. For example, roof overhangs and open
decorative porches were designed to provide shade; operable windows and doors to allow for day lighting and natural ventilation;
wood windows, siding and trim were fabricated from dense, old growth species not only to resist rot, but also to facilitate
You will be surprised how cost-effective combining historic preservation and new technology can be, and how much work you
can do yourself or with the assistance of a skilled contractor! Think of your house as a long-term project; allocate a number
of dollars and hours for work each month. Our toolkit offers an overview of what can be done, and recommends resources to
help you evaluate the most economical approach in terms of short– and long-term payback of energy dollars.
Preservation and energy efficiency are compatible goals. Energy saving priorities include:
- Priority #1: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)
Be sure that your equipment is working as efficiently as possible. If you need to select a new system, consider how its
installation will impact the building's historic fabric, and ask your local preservation experts for guidance. A number of
NYS agencies have programs to assist with upgrading mechanical equipment and energy audits.
- Priority #2: Insulation
The best return on your investment in conserving energy is to insulate your attic. Over 30% of heat loss occurs through
your roof! A layer of insulation in your attic can reduce that heat loss significantly.
- Priority #3: Windows
Despite the fact that they get a bad rap, windows account for only 5-10% of energy lost, primarily by air infiltration. Be
sure your windows fit tightly by repairing them and adding weather-stripping, interior or exterior storms and interior
Our helpful Weatherization Tool Kit (pdf) provides more
information on old windows, common problems, routine maintenance, weather-stripping, storm and replacement windows.