How we’ve made our 100-year old home more energy efficient

This will be the first post of several about what we’ve done to our 100-year-old Carolina farmhouse to make it more energy efficient.  We’ve made some really stupid mistakes along the way, but we’ve learned from our mistakes, and trying to create a comfortable, safe and energy efficient home that was built in a different era of home energy use is what set us on the path to starting a Home Performance contracting business.

First, here’s our house:


It was built in 1914, so it’s actually 95 years old, not 100, and almost all the original  materials for the house were milled on site. Inside, every wall and ceiling that are original to the house (which is almost all of it except the bathrooms and laundry area – a.k.a. indoor plumbing!) are made of beadboard. We’re talking individual boards, not the plywood panels people buy now. On the backs of these boards is bark. 95 year old bark!

When we bought the house it was in fairly good shape structurally but at the time we thought it just needed cosmetic changes to make it a happy space for our family. That, and a bathroom upstairs. Oh, and did I forget to add it had no central heat or AC? The original heat was through propane stoves in each room. There was no AC. It was fairly rustic.

So we added a bathroom on the 2nd floor and took care of our cosmetic issues and put in central heat and air…

…and the first winter we went through more than 1000 gallons of propane. Which, that winter, meant almost $3000 in propane. In the piedmont of North Carolina, which has a gentle winter. And our house is 2700 square feet.


This was part 1 of the series on how we made our old home more energy efficient.

Next, part 2: some good things about our house, despite the crazy high energy bills

And part 3: the d.i.y. weatherizer’s best friend.

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One Response to How we’ve made our 100-year old home more energy efficient

  1. […] 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. […]

Contact us:

Mark Bashista, Owner
Paul Swenson, Lead Auditor
Triangle: (919) 360-1570
Shop location:
4608-F Industry Lane
Durham, NC 27713
Mailing address:
Home Performance NC
7917 Windspray Drive
Summerfield, NC 27358

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Read about our owners’ 100-year old house and how they made it energy efficient.