In my last post I explained what we did to initially improve our house (or rather, what we thought were improvements), and the resulting exorbitant energy bills. By adding central heat and air to a house that was essentially, a giant colander, we were wasting tons of heat and tons of money. After that first winter we knew we had to make some changes.
But first, some good things about our house:
- Because it is so leaky, the 95-year-old wood has been preserved. The bead board expands with humidity and shrinks with dryer air, and indoor air quality is high.
- One of the home improvements we made early on (before we moved in) was caulking almost every bead in the house. Did I happen to mention that every ceiling and every wall is made of beadboard – beadboard that is made of single pieces of wood? So when I say we caulked almost every bead, I mean we caulked almost every board on every wall of every room of our house. We estimate that we used over 150 tubes of caulk! I spent about a week straight caulking the kitchen ceiling alone. At the time, we were caulking for cosmetic reasons, but since then we’re so grateful we did it since plugging up the cracks plugs up air flow, which helps keep the heat in in the winter and the cold in in the summer. In the second floor rooms it also created a barrier between the attic and the rooms upstairs. This was crucial – not just because of heat loss – but because our 95 year old house has a 95 year old attic, filled with 95 years worth of dirt, which was sifting down into those rooms every time there was a vibration. With two boys, our house is filled with vibrations!
- Because our house was built before central heat and air it is naturally situated to keep as cool as possible in the summertime. We have deep porches on the south and east sides of the house, so the only direct sun in our 1st floor windows is very early in the morning, and the west and north sides of the house are backed by large trees. It’s also situated on the top of a hill, which naturally lends itself to a nice breeze on all but the most still of days.
- Every window in the house is very large, and double hung. When the weather is temperate and we open the windows and doors, we get a wonderful cross-breeze through the house. Plus, the windows are gorgeous – they have 95-year-old glass! And no, we are not replacing them, nor would we ever. I’ll explain how we manage their leakiness in the next post.
This is, obviously, part 2.