Turn an Old House Into an Efficient House

by Shilpi Paul

Turn an Old House Into an Efficient House: Figure 1

On Saturday, the DC Preservation League invited James Carroll from EcoHouse to give Capitol Hill homeowners some tips on how to make their old DC homes more energy efficient.

Basically, Carroll outlined the steps that inspectors go through when auditing a home in the District. Free energy audits are available to any single-family homeowner in DC, and EcoHouse, a residential energy efficiency company, also performs longer audits for a fee.

Here are some of the tips that Carroll shared:

  • With the help of an inspector, diagnose all sources of air leakage in and out of the house. This includes both improperly sealed doors and windows letting “bad” air in, and also punctured ducts leaking “good” air into an attic or basement.
  • Outdated appliances can be a huge energy suck. Refrigerator efficiency, for example, has greatly improved over the past few decades and changing out an old fridge for a newer model is probably worth the expense, as fridges are the biggest use of electricity in most homes (unless you have a hot tub).
  • Look for Energy Star-rated appliances whenever possible.
  • Make sure you are using a programmable thermostat to keep energy usage low during the day when the house is empty.
  • Consider using a “Smart Strip” power strip for large electronics. They are able to completely turn off electronics that are not in use, rather than drawing an idle current.
  • Change your light bulbs to either LED or Compact Flourescent Lighting (CFL). According to Carroll, LEDs are the best.
  • Change your air filter regularly to keep the systems working optimally.

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/turn_an_old_house_into_an_efficient_house/5641

1 Comment

  1. Kim said at 4:39 am on Thursday June 14, 2012:
    I was less than impressed with my free energy audit. The test did identify some air leakage, but cost-effective remedies weren't offered. Duct sealing in an attic space too tight to access, for instance, because their model assumed a suburban-type pitched roof and ours is nearly flat. The auditors never even asked for my utility bills, and got overly focused on things that didn't matter (like leaks in an outer door that only matter when the inner door of an entry airlock is left open, which we don't when it's cold or hot out. Nor did they ask about lightbulbs, which are mostly already CFLs, before issuing a report telling me to switch to CFLs. And where we identified an energy-related comfort problem at the outset of the audit stone floors that get uncomfortably cold in the winter) they offered nothing (not in their model). Sometimes a "free" audit is worth what one pays for it...

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