Heating a historic home while staying on budget is no easy feat. Making these fixes can save you money and keep you toasty-warm.

Nothing rivals the charm and craftsmanship of an older home. Seeing a historic home sparks a certain feeling that just isn’t felt when you see a more modern house that looks like a mirror image of the homes to its left and right.

However, the heating systems in historic homes often leave much to be desired.

If you own an older home, you may find yourself constantly cranking the thermostat to deal with the cold or trying to find ways to keep the bedroom warmer without having to run the heater all night long.

Luckily, modern technology has emerged to complement your historic home’s heating system, while simple, more commonplace fixes also help you with optimizing your home’s heating system without running your wallet thin.

There is a way to provide your historic home with efficient heating that’s cost-effective and eco-friendly.

old house in winter

The heating systems in historic homes often leave much to be desired.

Stop Cranking Up the Thermostat

Sometimes you’ll find yourself constantly cranking up the thermostat but still feeling cold. This doesn’t necessarily imply your heating source is faulty, but instead suggests your home is losing a lot of heat due to poor insulation.

Older, historic homes often have insufficient insulation because proper heating in homes wasn’t considered as much of a priority back in the day. That may sound crazy, but even the very affluent homeowners didn’t always have proper heating and insulation.

When fixing your home’s insulation, you want to start where you’re losing the majority of your heat. A great way to figure this out is to perform an energy audit. Hiring an independent auditor to perform a bias-free analysis is an optimal and convenient way to target specific energy and heat-deficient areas in your historic home.

Energy audits are best for identifying whether or not you need to add extra insulation and where.

Of course, you could also skip the energy audit and start with the usual suspect for heat and energy loss: the attic. Use blown-in insulation for your attic if it’s unfinished but use blanket insulation if your attic is finished or if you’re planning on finishing it soon.

If your historic home has a basement, check it for insulation gaps. Most basements do not contain insulation and do not require it. However, if you live in an area where the ground freezes, it’s ideal to insulate your basement.

Adding extra insulation to your home is a great way to keep the heat in and the energy bills down. Of course, there are always more ways to make your home’s heating system even more efficient.

Complement Your Heating System

Perhaps you’ve experienced the frustration of HVAC contractors telling you your historic home simply isn’t able to accommodate modern heating systems.

Don’t give up on making your heating system more efficient. Instead, look for alternative, energy-efficient solutions to complement the heating system in your home.

Consider using in-floor heating systems that don’t require any ducting or furnaces. As a bonus, your feet will always be warm and cozy. Nothing beats stepping out of a steamy shower onto a warm floor during a crisp winter morning.

Cranking up the central heating system at night just so you don’t freeze while your asleep can be a pain. Instead, opt for a wall-mounted electric panel heater like the energy efficient Envi™ whole-room heater. An Envi heater fits beautifully onto the wall of any room; its sleek style blends into any home’s aesthetic.

Envi Heat System

Envi™ whole-room heater.

The heater is able to effectively heat up to 150-square-feet in any room. Mounting the Envi heater on the wall near your bed gives you warmth without straining the heating bill. The whole-room heater uses low-wattage technology to run economically: costing as little as four cents an hour to run.

Adding secondary heating sources to your home is a great way to reduce the use of your central heating system and heat specific areas you use the most in your historic home.

Try to identify which areas of the home you prefer to be heated: perhaps it’s the bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen. Adding complementary, economical heating sources like the Envi heater potentially helps to cut down on your heating bill and increase your comfort.

Here are some reviews from eheat.com about Envi Heater in historic homes:

Put two heaters in upstairs bedrooms in 100 year old house in the mountains that have never had their own heat source. Can’t believe how well the heaters functioned. The bedrooms stayed 65 - 70 degrees when it was minus 10 outside.
~ Sue

I purchased two of these heaters for upstairs bedrooms in a hundred plus year old home that currently does not have a heat source. Both bedrooms are around 260 sq ft. Keeps rooms at steady temp of your choosing. Great heater.
~ Patrick B.

Best heat source for our 100+ year old house. Wish these had been around when we put baseboards in upstairs bedrooms. Very safe and moveable with the room changes.
~ Susan R.

Get Rid of Drafts

Historic homes tend to get drafty due to changes to the home’s foundation that happen over time. Your home’s walls and door frames can shift, cracks form, and window frames shrink. All of these changes result in a home exposed to currents of cool air blowing in through those spaces.

You can solve this issue of wind and cool air blowing into your home in a variety of ways:

1. Add weatherstripping to doors and window frames.

Weatherstripping will prevent cold air from blowing through the cracks and gaps of your door and window frames.

2. Fill gaps in your basement and/or attic.

Basements and attics are often the culprits of inefficient heating. Use expandable foam to patch areas where gaps to the outside air have formed.

fireplace in old home

Fireplaces can let cold air into your home through downdrafts.

3. Place caps on old, unused fireplaces.

Fireplaces can let cold air into your home through downdrafts.

You can make these fixes on your own pretty easily, if you trust your handiwork. Or, you can contact an HVAC contractor to help you out.

A Properly Heated, Historic Home

Checking your home for leaky areas and adding insulation allows you to maintain heat and lower the cost of your heating bill. Instead of constantly cranking the thermostat, you’ll find that proper insulation and weather-proofing keep your home warmer for longer.

Also, adding complementary heating sources, like the Envi Heater, to specific rooms in your home will reduce your need to turn up the central heating system. This, too, will cut down on your heating bills.

Using the tips above truly will have other historic homeowners envying the efficiency of your heating system.

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