Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Historic House Winter Upkeep 101

For those of us that live in old houses, performing basic maintenance and upkeep can prevent potentially more serious problems and keep your home running efficiently.  During the winter, energy efficiency and proper maintenance is especially important with sensitivity to its historic character-defining features.

Below are some tips for winter upkeep in your historic house:

1. If you must add insulation, add it to the attic and the basement, where most of the house's heat escapes. (Adding blown-in insulation to walls can cause problems in the long run for historic houses).

2. Have your furnace system serviced regularly to make sure it is working efficiently. Change your furnace filters. Bleed radiators and clean forced-air registers.

3. Install a programmable thermostat to save on heating costs when you are not home.

4. Insulate pipes and duct work.

5. Weatherstrip and caulk windows to prevent any air leaks. Repair windows that are not functioning or closing properly. Make sure they are locked tight.

6. Close fireplace flues or dampers when not in use.

7. If windows are proving to be a problem in heat loss, consider adding energy efficient storm windows, which can be just as effective as replacing with new window sashes. Additionally, you can receive a $1,500 tax credit.

8. Use heavy drapes or shutters to keep additional heat from escaping from your windows.

9. Inspect your doors for gaps where air can escape, and seal or fill any holes/gaps. 

10. Use a roof rake to remove snow and ice from your roof.

11. Consider getting an energy audit.

Hopefully these tips are helpful to you! Remember, always retain first, then repair, and if you must replace, replace in-kind. Stay warm, friends!


  1. Great tips! We did a lot of these when we lived in our last home that was built in 1914. If we had stayed there, we would have updated the old windows because they were horrible. Our bedroom had lots of windows which looked awesome, but it was the coldest room of the house!

  2. I never realized until this winter how effective drapes are in insulating a room. I hung heavy drapery in our living room this year and it helps keep the room toasty all night long. :-)