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Energy efficiency, historic preservation not mutually exclusive

Someone said something to me that really stuck in my head all night: "We believe, in fact, that conservation is the biggest reservoir of 'new' energy out there." Or words to this effect.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor on

Someone said something to me that really stuck in my head all night: "We believe, in fact, that conservation is the biggest reservoir of 'new' energy out there." Or words to this effect.

I got to thinking about this because of some videos that have been sitting in my inbox in the past two weeks. The videos, produced by Old House Web, are focused on dispelling the myth that an old home can't be made more energy-efficient.

Some background: I grew up in a "old" town in central New Jersey, called Bernardsville, in a BIG BIG old house (1880 that was constructed for the heir to the Pfizer pharmaceutical company founder as a wedding present. The people who bought it from my dad have done a great job at preserving its integrity, but many of the old mansions around it were simply knocked down in the name of "progress." It burns me up, because the shells of those old homes were probably worth at least twice some of the materials we rely on today.

To step off my soapbox, my point is that old homes are great candidates for energy efficiency projects. My fathers's home, as an example, had a stone exterior that was way thicker our neighbors. Even though we didn't have central air-conditioning, I can count on both hands the number of times I felt really uncomfortable during the summer, because the house was architected and constructed with that in mind. There were something like eight heating zones, so we could strategically heat the rooms in the winter.

Green home restoration guru Matt Grocoff has a number of suggestions for home to green an old home (not just "older" but "old"), which are outlined in a series of new videos on the Old House Web.

The first, which is pretty general, focuses on what Grocoff did to his own house.

The second is about how his neighbor retrofitted his 150-year-old home so that it could be certified under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Less about technology, but shows you what's possible.

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