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How to make an older home more efficient

If you live in an older home, you might be wondering whether it's compatible with some of the latest energy-saving technologies. While upgrades like a new heating system, windows or doors, and insulation will have a big impact on improving your home’s efficiency, maybe those aren’t in your budget right now. Or maybe you rent your home or live in a condo or apartment where those types of upgrades aren’t possible.

Fear not, because we have some suggestions for smaller things you can do to improve the comfort and efficiency of your home. And together, they could add up to some sizable savings.

Let’s take a look.

1. Start draftproofing

Drafts are one of the biggest reasons an older home might be inefficient. They could be costing you money in lost heat and yet they’re often so easy to find and fix. Take a look at our guides to finding drafts and draftproofing doors and windows. This can be the equivalent of leaving a small window open, so it’s worth finding a safe way to seal them.

2. Add window coverings

We haven’t finished with windows just yet. You may have found a way to seal up all the drafts, but if you’ve only got single pane windows, you should also consider installing insulating window film, adding thick temperature-rated curtains, or insulating your existing curtains.

3. Close doors

This might be difficult if your house is open plan, but if you use electric baseboards throughout your home, try to keep doors closed so that heat stays in the rooms where you need it, instead of drifting out into hallways where you don’t.

4. Add high-efficiency faucets

New high-efficiency faucets and shower heads are easy and inexpensive to install no matter how old your bathroom is and can really help cut down your hot water usage. You might not notice a difference in the feel of your shower. But you’ll notice the difference on your hot water bill. And here’s a bonus tip: every minute you can cut off your shower time could save you $15 a year.

5. Change to LED lighting

Changing all your light bulbs to LED is a no-brainer in any home. We’ve got lots of LED tips, but the simple fact is that ENERGY STAR® LEDs are the most efficient lighting technology you can buy. They’re at least 75% more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs, which lose most of their energy by producing more heat than light. Don’t think you can warm a room with incandescents, though - it’ll lead to higher replacement costs and electricity use.

When you replace an incandescent bulb with a LED, you could save $75 in electricity over the lifetime of the LED bulb. And because LEDs can last up to 10-15 years, you won't have to replace bulbs nearly as often.

6. Introduce smart controls

Smart controls help you to reduce your energy usage by programming smart devices and outlets to only come on when you need them to. No matter how old your house is, you can turn any outlet into a smart outlet with a smart plug. And smart controls have an added advantage - you can use your smartphone to control everything from wherever you are in the house - or out and about.

7. Upgrade to energy saving appliances

Buying a new washing machine, dryer or refrigerator isn’t something you do every day. But when you do, make sure you buy the most efficient appliance you can - you’ll start saving energy right away and you’ll feel the benefit for years to come.

8. Change your daily habits

By visiting, you’re already well on the way to achieving this. Our many tips and articles are designed to work together and help you save electricity all over your home - whether it’s a brand new build or over 100 years old.

Measure how your energy habits add up →