Taking a little break from my usual content articles, or SEO work articles, I want to share a little about another one of my passions. Actually, it’s two combined into one. First, I love my old house. In August of 2006 I bought my first house: a 1948 not-exactly-fixer-upper. It needed some cosmetic work, and it needed some serious décor updating, but it was fully functional. The hardest part though was dealing with the inefficiencies of an old house. Something I have worked hard to maximize. Here are a few of the things I have done, and I am currently doing, to make sure my house is the most energy efficient it can be.
Insulation Helps Energy Efficiency
Back in the 1940’s I am pretty sure they didn’t realize how much heat they were losing. So rather than pack the house full of insulation, they did just a little bit and called it good. Today, I feel that heat loss all day long in my old house, and I am working to making it a warmer and cozier place.
One of the first things I did after moving in is add insulation to the attic. I have a finished attic, but behind the knee walls there is a small crawl space on either side. A friend working construction dropped a load of used Styrofoam in my driveway, so I cut that to the right size and I added insulation to the rafters.
Currently I am working in the basement. Now most furnace guys will tell you that basements don’t need much insulation, and that since heat rises it is never wasted when pumped into the basement. I call baloney on that one. Not only is my basement always cold, the air flowing in through all of the cracks and such make it even colder. The sills (where the floor joists rest) are not insulated, and are in dire need of it; so are the concrete walls themselves. I am certain that once I am done ripping down ceiling tiles and wallboards, and after I get some insulation up, the house will feel immensely warmer. In part due to a revamped heating system.
Radiant Floor Heat is the Most Energy Efficient
Just about every square foot of the main living level will be able to have radiant floor heat. Since I have to tear down all of the ceilings in the basement, I figured that adding radiant heat would not only be fairly cheap, but it would make the house much warmer.
You see, the house is basically split in two. On one side there are the bedrooms and on the other side are the living room and the kitchen. Those walls down the middle are where all of the heating ducts are. So that means in the kitchen near the sink, and the far corner of the living room get terribly cold (especially when it’s -20 outside). By putting in radiant heat I can make the whole house more comfortable, and since I will have the basement ceiling opened up I can install it for a fraction of the cost. Added bonus: savings on my gas bill during the winter by having an energy efficient heating system.
Energy Efficiency and Electricity
When I moved into my house everything had incandescent light bulbs. At the time CFL’s were starting to get popular, but they weren’t really affordable yet. About a year after moving in, however, the prices came down and the electric company offered discounts of $1 and $2 off per bulb. I spent about $30 on light bulbs one afternoon and replaced all of my incandescent bulbs. The result was shocking.
I carefully track all of my utility bills. So when I replaced the bulbs I continued to track and compare to the previous month. I was surprised the first month when my bill was about $20 lower than it usually was. The next month it was the same. Every month after replacing all the bulbs in my house with CFL’s, I was saving $10-$25. Well worth the initial $30 upfront cost.
Now as the CFL’s begin to wear out, I plan to update to LED bulbs. The technology has advanced enough that they can be purchased for a reasonable price.
Increasing Energy Efficiency in My Old House
I still have a long ways to go to have a truly energy efficient home. Actually, that’s never going to happen without tearing this one down and building a new one. But I can make the most of what I have. Future plans call for a major remodel of the finished attic, one that includes adding superior insulation. I also plan to install a gas fireplace in the basement to heat it up nicely (after everything is insulated so the heat truly isn’t lost). Big plans for my old house and almost all of them revolve around energy efficiency.
As a writer in Billings, Montana, I can take breaks and go tinker for 30 minutes. It’s a fantastic way to make the most of my time and avoid burnout.