To preserve the architectural heritage of older homes and improve energy efficiency, retrofits should minimize changes to the building’s appearance and focus on repairs rather than replacement. Below are a list of energy saving upgrades appropriate for heritage homes:

  • Draftproofing – comprehensive draftproofing (air sealing) is an effective way to make older homes more energy efficient. (See Where do I start to reduce drafts and improve my home?)
  • Storm Windows – an important aspect of a heritage home’s character is its windows. If original wooden storm windows have been destroyed, you can install custom storm windows made to order. The benefits of installing wood storm windows include improved thermal efficiency, reducing moisture transfer, and compatibility with traditional wood-frame house construction. Avoid metal storm windows and storm-and-screen combinations if you want to preserve the appearance of your heritage home. Interior storm windows are less noticeable and easier to maintain than exterior storm windows.
  • Insulation Upgrades – heritage homes often have little or no insulation; by adding or upgrading insulation levels, you can significantly improve the thermal efficiency of your home. To preserve both the interior and exterior wall finishes, homeowners can have insulation blown into the cavity of a wood frame wall. Basements and attics can often be insulated without affecting the heritage appearance. When upgrading insulation in older homes, it’s also important to have a sufficient vapour and air barrier.
  • Heating System Upgrades – upgrading to a size-appropriate and energy-efficient heating system can help you achieve energy savings without altering the heritage appearance of your home.
  • Domestic Hot Water Upgrades – another cost-effective way to improve the energy efficiency of a heritage home is to upgrade your domestic heating and hot water system to energy efficient models. This retrofit will generally have a short payback period and will not damage the heritage and character elements of your home.

Do you live in the City of Vancouver? Check out the Heritage Energy Retrofit Grant. The Vancouver Heritage Foundation offers grants for energy efficiency upgrades and discounts for EnerGuide home evaluations.

Did you see a building science or energy efficiency term you did not understand? Check out our glossary.