Are Energy Retrofitting and Historic Preservation at Odds?

Posted on:

With a large percentage of homes having been built before modern energy-efficient fixtures were available, there’s a lot of potential for beneficial energy retrofitting in single-family homes. However, if your home is considered historic—or you just want to preserve its original character—it can feel as if you’ll be sacrificing your home’s historic features when you make upgrades.

But thanks to advances in energy retrofitting capabilities, as well as with a little extra work on the part of you and your contractors, you can complete an energy retrofit without compromising your home’s historic preservation needs.

Review the Requirements

If your home is on either the National Register of Historic Places or it’s considered a locally designated historic property, it’s essential that you and your contractor review the guidelines before you begin even planning a retrofit.

These guidelines will tell you what you can and cannot do to your home in order to maintain its historic status, right down to the materials that can be used.

Without reviewing these guidelines, you may open yourself up to fines and red tape when trying to get your home renovated.

Conduct an Analysis

Knowing where you’re starting from in terms of energy usage is key to determining just what projects you need to tackle and which you can leave for later. It’s also a good idea to get a general health and safety analysis of your home at this point, just so you don’t risk running into dangerous substances that need to be dealt with during the process.

An energy auditor, for example, could tell you where you’re losing the most energy and what improvements may make the biggest impact. You also can do an energy audit yourself with software made specifically for this purpose.

Once the audit is complete, you’ll have a list of projects that you should prioritize in your renovation plans, knowing you’ll get the most bang for your buck rather than guessing at what needs to be upgraded.

Bring in Experts

While you can complete an energy retrofit and renovation of your home without hiring experts, it may be worthwhile to spend a little extra upfront to avoid too many costly and time-consuming delays down the road.

Hiring an energy auditor, for example, may be a little expensive at first, but it will likely pay off in the long run by pointing out what projects you should focus on first and which you can do away with. The same goes for hiring a contractor with knowledge and experience in green renovation practices. 

You may pay a little more than you’d pay for a non-green contractor, but their energy and expertise will be invaluable in keeping your renovation moving smoothly.

Salvage and Restore

One of the best ways to help balance energy retrofitting needs with your home’s history is to salvage features you can and, if necessary, restore them.

Pieces such as windows and doors, which often are heavier than their newer counterparts and can aid in insulating your space, can be salvaged and repaired, then reinstalled in your home. You’ll get the benefit of them contributing to your newer, greener home while also making a point to preserve its historical significance.

Salvaging and restoring features has the added benefit of being more sustainable than purchasing new. If you’ve got a door that can be restored to look great in your new space, you’re reusing an existing feature rather than buying a new one.

Historic Home Restoration Contractors in MD & PA

At Irvine Construction, we make it part of our mission to complete as environmentally friendly restorations as possible while also preserving your home’s historic integrity. Our team of skilled historic contractors helps you every step of the way—from design to final walkthrough—to get the home of your dreams. Schedule your consultation today!

Leave a Reply