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9 Best Upgrades for Modern Comfort in an Old House

9 Best Upgrades for Modern Comfort in an Old House
Image Credit: Maija Dedovica

Living in an old house has its charm, but updating it for modern comfort can make a big difference in your daily life. Whether it’s simple upgrades or more substantial renovations, these changes can enhance your home’s functionality and style.

What upgrades can make your old house feel more comfortable and contemporary? From improving energy efficiency to adding convenience, there are several ways to bring modern amenities into your vintage home while preserving its character. These upgrades not only boost your comfort level but also increase the value of your property.

1) High-Efficiency HVAC System

Upgrading to a high-efficiency HVAC system can be a game-changer for your old house. These modern systems are designed to provide better comfort while using less energy.

Look for units with a SEER rating of 16 or higher. This rating indicates better efficiency, which can help lower your energy bills. For instance, models like the Trane XV20i and Carrier Infinity 20 are known for their high SEER ratings.

Some units feature multi-stage compressors. These compressors adjust their speed based on your cooling needs, ensuring your home stays comfortable without wasting energy. Another great feature is variable speed blowers, which can provide more consistent airflow and reduce noise.

Upgrading your ductwork can also improve your HVAC system’s efficiency. Properly sealed and insulated ducts ensure that cool or warm air reaches every part of your home. This not only improves comfort but also reduces energy losses.

Investing in a high-efficiency HVAC system may require an initial cost. However, the energy savings and improved comfort make it a worthwhile upgrade for any old house.

2) Smart Thermostat

Upgrading to a smart thermostat can make your home a lot more comfortable. These devices allow you to control the temperature using your smartphone or voice assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit.

A smart thermostat learns your schedule and preferences. It can adjust the temperature automatically, ensuring your home is just how you like it.

One of the best options is the Google Nest Learning Thermostat. It’s praised for its learning capabilities and energy-saving features.

If you’re looking for value, the Emerson Sensi Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat connects to various smart home platforms and is budget-friendly.

Another great choice is the Ecobee Smart Thermostat Premium. It’s known for being user-friendly and well-designed.

Installing one of these can also help you save on your energy bill. These devices often come with energy reports that show how much energy you’re using and give tips on how to save more.

With features like remote programming and voice control, a smart thermostat brings both comfort and convenience to your home. It’s an upgrade that can make a big difference in your daily life.

3) LED Lighting Fixtures

Upgrading to LED lighting fixtures is a smart move for any old house. LEDs are energy-efficient and can lower your electricity bill. They last longer than traditional bulbs, which means fewer replacements.

LED lights come in various styles and colors, making it easy to match your home’s aesthetic. You can even find LED retrofits that fit into your current fixtures, providing a hassle-free upgrade.

LEDs are brighter and more efficient, offering better lighting for your living spaces. They also provide options for dimming, which allows for more control over the ambiance. With LEDs, you can brighten or soften the light as needed.

For large spaces like parking lots, LED retrofits can save significant energy. Switching to LEDs can enhance the look of your home and improve functionality.

Consider targeting high-wattage fixtures first. These areas can benefit the most from the switch to LEDs. You’ll see energy savings and maintain a cohesive look throughout your home.

Integrating LED lighting can transform an old house, making it more modern and energy-efficient with minimal effort. Plus, the variety in design options ensures you won’t have to compromise on style.

4) Double-Glazed Windows

Upgrading to double-glazed windows can significantly improve your home’s comfort and energy efficiency. These windows have two panes of glass with a layer of air or gas between them, which provides better insulation than single-pane windows.

Double-glazed windows help keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. This can reduce your heating and cooling bills, making your home more energy-efficient.

In addition to insulation, double-glazed windows also provide soundproofing. This can be especially beneficial if you live in a noisy area or near a busy street.

Installing double-glazed windows can also enhance the value of your home. Potential buyers often look for houses with energy-efficient features like these windows.

If you have an older home, retrofitting with double-glazed windows is a smart move. It keeps the charm of your period property while adding modern comfort and efficiency.

Remember, while the initial cost may be higher, the long-term savings on energy bills and the added comfort make it a worthwhile investment. Check out some of the best double-glazed windows available to see which options are right for your home.

5) Programmable Lighting

Installing programmable lighting in your old house can add a lot of convenience and modern flair. You can set your lights to turn on and off at specific times. This means you won’t have to fumble around in the dark when you come home late.

With programmable lighting, you can control the ambiance of each room. Dim the lights for a cozy movie night or brighten them for a lively dinner party. The ability to customize lighting settings makes your home more adaptable to different activities.

Using LED bulbs alongside programmable systems is energy-efficient. You’ll save on your electricity bill while also extending the life of your light fixtures. Consider syncing your lights with smart assistants like Alexa or Google Home to control them with simple voice commands.

A handy feature of programmable lighting is the ability to create schedules. You can set specific times for lights to turn on in the morning or turn off at night. This helps improve home security by making it look like someone is always home.

By upgrading to programmable lighting, you bring a touch of modern technology to your old house. It’s a small change that can make a big difference in daily comfort and energy savings. The integration of modern devices can make your home feel both classic and up-to-date.

6) Radiant Floor Heating

Radiant floor heating can add a touch of luxury to your old house. It provides warm floors during chilly mornings. Two main types are electric and hydronic systems. Both can keep you snug.

Electric radiant heating uses thin electric wires under your floors. It’s easier to install because there’s no need for boilers or water pipes. Check out more about electric radiant floor heating here.

Hydronic radiant heating uses hot water pumped through tubes. This system needs a boiler and a pump. It can be more complex but is often more energy-efficient. You can learn more about retrofitting hydronic radiant heating here.

Radiant floor heating is energy-efficient and can save on heating costs. It warms rooms evenly, compared to traditional heaters. This keeps your toes toasty without drafts or cold spots. Read more about the benefits here.

Wood flooring can expand with heat. It’s important to keep the temperature to a maximum of 80 degrees F. Engineered wood is more stable than solid hardwood. You can discover more tips here.

7) Tankless Water Heater

Upgrading to a tankless water heater is a smart choice for modern comfort. These heaters provide hot water on demand and don’t store water like traditional tanks. This makes them more efficient and can save you space.

A major benefit is the endless supply of hot water. You won’t need to worry about running out, even during long showers.

Tankless water heaters are also energy-efficient. They only heat water when you need it. This can lead to lower energy bills over time.

There are different types to consider. Some run on electricity, while others use gas or propane. For whole-house usage, check out options like the Rinnai Indoor Gas Tankless Hot Water Heater.

If you have a smaller household, you might prefer models like EcoSmart ECO 11, which are designed for lower water usage.

Installing a tankless water heater can be a bit more complex than traditional ones. It’s often best to hire a professional for installation.

With the right choice, you can enjoy modern comfort and improve your old house’s efficiency.

8) Energy-Efficient Insulation

Adding energy-efficient insulation to your old house is a game-changer. It helps keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, cutting down on those pesky energy bills.

Consider upgrading your attic insulation. This spot often has gaps that let heat escape. With proper insulation, you can keep a steady temperature inside.

Wall insulation is another important area. Many older homes lack adequate insulation in the walls. Filling these spaces can make your rooms feel cozier.

For a quick win, think about sealing cracks and gaps around windows and doors. Even small openings can let in drafts, reducing your home’s efficiency.

Upgrading your house’s insulation isn’t just about comfort. It’s about making your home energy-efficient and saving money in the long run. For instance, insulating water pipes can prevent heat loss and save energy.

Remember, insulation isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Materials like fiberglass, foam, and even eco-friendly options like cellulose offer different benefits. Choose what works best for your needs and budget.

Incorporating advanced insulation techniques can significantly improve your home’s energy efficiency. Plus, you’ll enjoy a more comfortable living space year-round.

9) Solar Panels

Adding solar panels to your old house can bring it into the future while saving money on energy bills. Solar panels convert sunlight into electricity which you can use to power your home.

You don’t need to worry too much about roof direction or slope. Ideally, the best roofs for solar panels face south and slope between 15 to 40 degrees. Plus, getting direct sunlight for most of the day helps a lot. But even if your roof faces east or west, you can still benefit from solar energy.

Solar panels are not one-size-fits-all. Different types have different efficiency ratings and outputs. For instance, the Silfab Elite line offers an efficiency of up to 21.44%. Similarly, the LR4-72HPH panels can achieve efficiency ratings up to 21.2% and outputs as high as 460 W types of solar panels.

While the initial cost of installing solar panels can be high, you can offset this with financing options and federal tax credits. A typical setup of 20 to 24 panels after the current 26 percent federal tax credit runs about $18,000 home solar panels.

Having solar panels can make your old house more modern and eco-friendly. Plus, you’ll see long-term savings on your electricity bills.

Conor Jameson
Written By

Conor Jameson was born and raised in Ireland where he was an accomplished carpenter by trade. He moved to the United States after meeting his now wife Sarah, while she was studying abroad. Conor and Sarah currently live in the New England area and love buying, renovating and selling old homes.

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