Heating and cooling systems consume more than the average energy use in older homes in Midwestern states such as Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. When temperatures drop below freezing, a reliable heat source is critical since winters in the Midwest can be extremely cold, especially in January. Meanwhile, the sweltering temperatures in the summer require efficient air conditioning to cool homes.
A study by the US Energy Information Administration finds that 41% of Midwestern homes built before the 1960s have central air conditioning, but how efficient are these systems in cooling these homes? To maintain indoor comfort without harming the planet, it’s essential that HVAC systems in older homes are properly maintained.
HVAC experts have found that many older properties in the Midwest have developed significant energy inefficiencies over time. Older properties were built in an era when energy efficiency was not a priority for home builders or consumers. One area where inefficiencies are usually found is in the ductwork used to carry heated or cooled air from the heating and cooling system to various parts of a home.
Ducts tend to leak significant amounts of heated or cool air at their connections and along their lengths, reducing the amount of heat or cooling delivered to living areas. A second major source of inefficiencies in the heating and cooling system itself can often be outdated and inefficient even if it has been well maintained. An upgrade to either or both the ductwork and the HVAC system can significantly improve the efficiency of an older property.
The Call for Maintenance
With older properties in the Midwest, HVAC systems often need upkeep or replacement because of the extreme spring, summer, fall, and winter temperatures. Over time, air conditioners, heating systems, and water heaters can lose their efficiency due to fluctuating temperatures.
According to experts who do water heater repair in Carmel Indiana, an efficient HVAC system can lower costs and improve comfort and air quality in homes. Extending the life of HVAC systems can save a lot of money over replacing the entire system due to neglect. HVAC contractors and engineers use various tools to help older real estate property managers and homeowners to keep costs down on maintaining the heating and cooling of their properties.
Old Meets New
A survey estimated that about 22% of single-family homes were constructed before 1940. The NAHB also estimates that more than 90% of multifamily buildings are at least 20 years old. New technologies have emerged to help owners of older structures, including those in Midwestern states, to manage heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems more efficiently.
Newer controls can adjust to changing conditions automatically, saving energy and lowering maintenance costs for owners. An experienced HVAC technician can evaluate the existing heating and cooling system to determine if upgrades might be advisable for a particular property. Also, careful selection, placement, and insulation maintenance can further improve older properties’ energy efficiency.
Efficient Heating and Cooling Beyond HVAC Maintenance
Apart from keeping your HVAC system in good working order, there are other ways that Midwest property owners can keep their older homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter months. One way of doing so is by planting trees around the property. Trees can provide natural shade and shield the home from the scorching rays of the sun.
Moreover, through transpiration– a process when trees sweat– they can reduce heat from the air, resulting in a natural cooling effect. To maximize this cooling effect, homeowners should be strategic when planting trees or shrubs around their property. They can be planted near air conditioner units, which can increase its efficiency by 10%.
However, it is imperative that no greenery should obstruct the units’ airflow. Meanwhile, property owners in the cooler parts of the Midwest, such as North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, should plant tall trees to serve as windbreaks to protect their homes from the cold winter winds. Some of the best trees to use for windbreaks include Red pine, Lombardy poplar, Easter Red cedar, Norway spruce, and American beech.
Add Houseplants for a Cooler Home
More people have been buying houseplants over the past two years to bring the charm of the outdoors into their homes. But apart from being merely decorative, certain houseplants can also help to freshen and cool the air naturally, which can lead to more energy savings over time.
Snake plants have a high water content, which helps to keep older homes cool during hot summer nights. Weeping figs, rubber plants, and palms can also help to create more oxygen and purify the air of harmful toxins. For hardy, local plants that will thrive even under a non-greenthumb’s care, consider Midwestern favorites such as dracaena, Zamioculcas zamiifolia, fiddle-leaf figs, begonias, silver jade plants, and African violets.
Insulate and Create Warmer Spaces
Nothing can replace an efficient heating system when it comes to keeping an older property warm. However, there are other things that homeowners can do to keep their indoor spaces warm and toasty in winter. Double glazing glass windows can serve multiple purposes– not only does it effectively reduce the amount of sun that comes into the home during summer, but it also reduces noise pollution and keeps the home warm in colder months.
Adding rugs on floors and using thick curtains to insulate windows can create warmth, as well as placing throws and blankets in often-used furniture such as beds, couches, and armchairs. Reversing the spin on ceiling fans can also help to bring the warm air down in older homes with high or sloped ceilings.
To prevent cold air from drifting into homes, it’s advisable to cover gaps under doors and windows with a door snake, which is made from a long piece of fabric that’s stuffed with dried beans, peas, or rice. Lastly, while it may be lovely to light a fire whenever the temperature plummets, it’s important to know that older homes usually have chimney issues.
If the property has a wood-burning fireplace, its chimney is likely to have tar and soot build-up, which can easily result in a chimney fire. Homeowners who prefer to use their fireplaces in winter should make it a point to clean their chimneys thoroughly during the autumn months and inspect them for cracks or other defects to maintain Midwestern home safety standards.
Older properties in the Midwest can most definitely benefit from effective heating and cooling. An HVAC system may be brand new, but if it’s not working properly, it could just be wasting money and energy. That’s why it’s wise for property owners to find ways to keep their homes at their optimal temperature during the summer and winter months and ensure that their HVAC systems are up to the job at hand.