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Here are some simple things that YOU can do. Start at the top of each section with the least expensive, easy to do items and work your way to the bottom where a little more investment and expertise may be needed.

Systems Basics

• Reduce your AC costs! Put windows to work – cross ventilate, adjust blinds, etc.
• Install programmable thermostats and adjust the settings appropriately as seasons change.
• Set water heaters to 120 degrees, and even less in summer.
• Use thick or padded rugs to insulate bare floors.
• Don’t block hot air or cold return registers with furniture or other barriers.
• Read NPS’s Preservation Brief #3, “Conserving Energy in Historic Buildings”.
• Regularly clean or replace filters in forced air systems and AC units.
• Replace radiator steam vents (1-pipe system) or steam traps (2-pipe system).
• Make sure heating ducts and pipes are well insulated and sealed.
• Place a reflector barrier between radiators and outside wall (particularly if wall is uninsulated).
• Have your furnace or boiler cleaned and serviced regularly.

Stop Air Leaks

• Weather-strip exterior doors and attach “sweeps” to the bottom.
• Caulk cracks and joints around door and window frames.
• Seal leaks in ductwork – that’s what REAL duct tape is for!
• Weather-strip or seal attic doorways and hatches.
• Use appropriate spray-foam to seal cracks in foundations and crawlspaces.
• Use foam backer rod to fill large gaps.


• Different types of insulation for different applications; Understand R-values
• Attics are the best place to start with insulation; it can give the best return on investment
and has the least potential to harm the historic fabric of your house.
• Plaster walls can be adequate – leave them alone unless other work is needed.


• Exterior storms – good investment for energy savings, but also to protect your wood windows!
• Interior “insulating panels” – lower cost alternative, doesn’t impact historic character of exterior facade, but beware of potential moisture issues.
• Most original wooden windows can be retained and repaired, resulting in a snug fit and increased energy savings. For more information see other tip sheets in this packet.

Information provided by the Collaborative for Common Sense Preservation :

Historic New England

Preserve RI

Newport Restoration Foundation

These sites will you help you understand how to address the flow of air and moisture through your home’s “envelope” (its roof, exterior wall, and foundation). Take some easy steps to save money, help the planet, and improve the comfort of your home.

Detecting Air Leaks
This concise guide describes how to find air leaks (or drafts) in your home.

Sealing Air Leaks
Once you have located areas in your home where comfortable air is escaping or unwanted air is flowing in, these U.S. Department of Energy sites offer easy tips for sealing those leaks. (Please note that while the Collaborative for Common Sense Preservation concurs with this site’s endorsement of storm windows, we typically do not recommend the other suggestion of replacing your windows.)

Weather Stripping
Air sealing around windows and doors increases your comfort and saves energy. This site provides a comprehensive list of weather-stripping options, the advantages and disadvantages of each, and tips for installation around windows and doors.

Assembled by the Collaborative for Common Sense Preservation (Historic New England, Newport Restoration Foundation and Preserve Rhode Island).

Information on efficient heating systems compiled by NRF for Historic Homeowner Workshops in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The workshops are a project of the Collaborative for Common Sense Preservation (the Newport Restoration Foundation, Preserve Rhode Island, and Historic New England.)

Click here to download your packet!

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