Keeping an older home warm during a Philadelphia winter presents a challenge.
Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take that will make your winter months much cozier.
Why Are Older Homes So Difficult to Keep Warm?
Modern homes are known for being virtually airtight.
That makes regulating the indoor temperature rather simple. In contrast, older homes were built to breathe. The construction
methods didn’t try to block all outside air from getting inside.
On the contrary, both the walls and the windows were expected to allow for a small amount of
air to penetrate. The airflow keeps mold to a minimum but makes it an uphill battle to keep the
house warm during the cold months.
Many older homes were constructed without insulation. Remember, the house was supposed to
breathe. Insulation would stop the air from flowing through the walls. Yes, it would help keep the
house warm, but it would also present the opportunity for moisture to get trapped in the walls
causing mold and decay.
The windows in older homes are often single-pane windows. The glass is so thin that you feel
that if you lightly tapped it, it would break. Cold air has no issue getting past those windows and
entering the home. In contrast, today’s homes have insulated, double-pane windows that are
Also, over the years, the insulation around old windows will crack or fall away. That makes it
possible for even more cold air to get in.
Things You Can Do to Warm Up Your Older Home
Caulk Your Windows
Do you feel occasional gusts of air when sitting near your windows? You’d be surprised at the
difference a little caulk can make. Taking the time to fill the gaps around all your windows will
pay off in large dividends.
Let the Sunshine In
On sunny days, pull back the window treatment so the sun can do its job to make your home
warmer. When the sun fades, immediately close the curtains to keep that heat from going back
the way it came.
Go Heavy on the Drapery
Switch from summery curtains to wintery drapes. The thickness of the drapes will block the cold
Do Something About That Drafty Door
Older homes have gaps beneath their doors caused by the house settling on its foundation. You
don’t need a high-tech solution for the problem. An ordinary rolled-up towel will do the trick.
Consider Insulating Your Attic
As mentioned, it can be risky to insulate the walls of an older home due to the unintended effect
of trapping moisture. However, you might consider insulating your attic. The risk of trapping
moisture is less, and if you do see a moisture problem, you can remove the insulation as long
as you used the kind that rolls into place.
Check Your Furniture Placement
Look around your house. Do you have a chair, cabinet, or couch blocking your heat source?
Adjust your furniture placement and see what happens when you give the warm air more
freedom to circulate.
Block Off Your Unused Fireplace
Unused fireplaces are a great escape route for warm air. Warm air rises, and where better to
rise than up a chimney?
Modernize Your Heating System
Even a modern home is hard to keep warm if it’s using an antiquated heating system. An older
home with an ancient heating system is no one’s idea of a cozy winter.
Today’s HVAC models are super-efficient. They will take far less time and energy to heat your
older home than your present system requires.