Baltimore’s older houses feature many rich and unique architectural elements that are impossible to find in the homes built today. These homes were built to last and are one of the most prominent symbols of Baltimore. But they are also often missing one crucial element that is a key concern for today’s homeowner: energy efficiency.

Image credit: Caulking Gun designed by Scott Lewis from the Noun Project.

Image credit: Caulking Gun designed by Scott Lewis from the Noun Project.

Rowhouses contain little or no insulation and plenty of unsealed air leaks. These conditions result in drafty rooms that are too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. One of the most effective ways to make your historic home more comfortable and save money on your utility bills is to have an energy retrofit performed on your home. An energy retrofit ensures that your house is properly air sealed and insulated so that the air you are paying to condition is not leaking away, causing you to waste money and energy.

What is an energy assessment?

In order to find out how to make your home more energy efficient, the first step of the energy retrofit process is to have a home energy assessment performed by a certified home performance contractor. During the energy assessment, the contractor’s building analyst will perform a series of diagnostic tests to locate where you are losing the most energy, determine the effectiveness of your current insulation, and check for gas leaks. After the assessment is complete, the building analyst will compile a report for you detailing the best opportunities for energy upgrades in your home. From there, the building analyst can help you choose the most cost-effective improvements for your home and you can schedule the retrofit installations.

Does a retrofit affect the appearance of my house?

The best thing about the energy retrofit installations is that they are not readily visible and will not affect the aesthetics of your historic home. You won’t be able to see the improvements but you can automatically feel the difference with more stabilized temperatures from room to room and more affordable monthly utility bills.

What financial incentives are available for weatherization?

Currently, the state of Maryland is offering a series of financial incentives to make the energy retrofit work very affordable. The home energy assessment, which normally costs $495, has been reduced to $100 for homes that are under 3,000 square feet. You can also receive a 50% rebate off of the energy improvements you choose to implement, up to $2,000. And the best part about the rebates is that the contractor completes the rebate paperwork for you and you receive a check in the mail a few months later.

This resource is adapted with permission from an article by Retrofit Baltimore, a project of the nonprofit Civic Works. Finding the right contractor for a weatherization project, can be a daunting task. ButRetrofit Baltimore can lead you through the process and connect you with a screened and vetted contractor to perform a home energy assessment on your home.If you would like to schedule an assessment for your home or wish to learn more, please contact Retrofit Baltimore at 410-929-6139.

Additional Resources

National Trust for Historic Preservation – Weatherization Guide for Older & Historic Buildings

Weatherization Guide for Older & Historic BuildingsNot since the days of the oil crisis in the 1970’s have Americans been so focused on energy consumption, especially weatherization. Just as the cost of heating and cooling has risen, so has the awareness of just how much energy seeps out of an average home every day. Central to this discussion is the role of older and historic buildings – and making them more energy efficient without jeopardizing their unique character.