How To Make Your Older Home More Sustainable On A Budget


Buying an older home is a lifelong dream for many people. They have built-in character and history but aren’t always the most sustainable properties. After all, they may have been built 100 or more years ago when climate change was unheard of.

Any homeowner can easily make their older house more eco-friendly with these projects that work with any budget. Consider these ideas to make your property greener while retaining its historic charm.

1. Hang Sun-Blocking Curtains

Your windows may be causing your skyrocketing electricity bill. Older homes often were constructed with large windows for easier ventilation and cooling, which works against modern homeowners with HVAC units.

Hanging sun-blocking curtains is an easy way to fix this problem. They’ll block sunlight that would otherwise overheat your home in the summer. The thick fabric also retains warm air in the winter. Find a set that matches your interior decorating, and you’ll have a budget-friendly solution to your costly electric bills.

2. Glaze Your Windows

Closely inspect your windows to spot any cracks around the edges, especially windows of older homes. If the glaze has chips or cracks, they’re likely letting outdoor air in. It defeats the purpose of your HVAC unit keeping your home comfortable because it needs to work overtime against leaks. Your home will use less electricity if you spend a few dollars applying new glaze across cracks.

3. Add Attic Insulation

Many older homes have attics that need more insulation. Attics that are routinely too hot in the summer and freezing in the winter could be signs that new insulation is required. See if the existing insulation is below or level with the floor joists. Adding new insulation onto the older layer is easy if it isn’t level or above the joists. Check for a high R-value to find material with the highest temperature-retaining ability so you don’t waste a penny at the home improvement store.

4. Consider Rubber Roofing

Wood was a common roofing material in the past but isn’t eco-friendly. It’s also at risk of decay and water damage. You can even consider replacing your roof one section at a time if this will help with your budgeting.

Sustainable roofing materials are easy to find and there’s a large selection of materials to choose from. Rubber is a relatively new choice with most offerings containing 95% recycled materials, so its manufacturing is easier on the environment. Rubber is also an excellent insulator and extremely versatile in color and style.

5. Install Draft Guards

Older homes are less sustainable for many reasons, including warped wood. Time and weathering can cause gradual shifts in your home’s structure and form. As the wood bends or widens, gaps can form beneath doors and leak outdoor air into your house.

Draft guards are budget-friendly solutions for this problem. They’re available at any home improvement store and slide easily onto any size door. They hold up well against weathering and use, so your investment will last for years and help trim your energy use costs.

6. Invest In Rugs

Hardwood floors can be gorgeous in older homes, but they warp like any other wood feature. Tiny cracks between the planks can let cold air seep into your first floor from under your house. Cover bare floors with rugs to add another insulation layer to your home and regulate the interior temperature without using extra electricity. Carpets can also add a bit of color and character to your rooms.

7. Look Into Solar Panels

People often consider getting solar panels to make their older homes more sustainable. You may have been interested at some point but wondered if it would cost more than your budget allows.

The good news is that solar panel companies make it easier than ever to install panels on any home. Get a few quotes to find one that doesn’t require a down payment and locks your monthly rate. You could replace your fluctuating electricity bill with a stable solar panel loan payment and live off green energy for decades. The tax credit refunds will also help when you file this year’s returns.

8. Fix Your Leaky Pipes

Recent research shows that households unknowingly waste 1 trillion gallons of water in household leaks annually. Although it can occur in houses of any age, older homes are especially susceptible due to antiquated plumbing.

Check the pipes and faucets in every room to ensure they don’t drip. It’s easy to replace small parts on a budget to stop potential water waste and avoid costly damage. Contact a plumber if you think your home has a bigger problem than a single leak. They often schedule free consultations to provide accurate repair quotes.

9. Switch Your Lightbulbs

Lamps and light fixtures wouldn’t create warmth in your home without bulbs. How much thought do you put into your purchases when it’s time to restock? Switching from incandescents to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) would make your home significantly more sustainable.

LEDs produce heat while lighting a room, whereas incandescents lose 90% of their energy in the form of heat. The electricity you need to turn on your lights won’t go to waste, significantly improving your home’s carbon footprint.

10. Schedule An Energy Audit

If you’ve read through these eco-friendly home upgrade ideas and don’t know where to start, you can always schedule a home energy audit. An assessment professional will take an hour or two to survey your house’s electricity consumption. You’ll have a detailed report that identifies which parts of your home use the most power so you know where to start with your improvements.

Rose Morrison is the managing editor of Renovated, and has been writing in the home living industry for over five years. Her work has been featured on The National Association of Realtors, the American Society of Home Inspectors and other reputable publications.

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