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Integrating Renewable Energy Into Historic Housing

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Renewable energy is the best tool we have for achieving sustainable housing. With renewable power, we can build more efficient homes and streamline energy use to cut down on waste and pollution. The result is a cleaner world and lower utility costs.

However, historic housing creates myriad barriers to renewable energy integration. From the older, uglier methods of solar power collection to infrastructures poorly optimized for alternative energy, older home preservation makes sustainability difficult.

But that doesn’t mean that integrating renewable energy is impossible in historic homes. In fact, there are plenty of things you can do to support renewable usage in an older home. But first, understand the challenges. 

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The Energy Problem Facing Historic Housing

When it comes to renewable energy, historic housing can be a powerful foe. Because of protection requirements placed on historic homes in many communities, remodeling with solar panels and efficiency upgrades may not be a possibility. This is due to rightful efforts to preserve historical artifacts for ongoing appreciation and awareness. 

However, this comes at a cost to sustainability. High-density urban areas, for example, use more energy than any other community, and also tend to be the locations of protected historic homes. So how do developers and real estate investors increase sustainability efforts without being able to alter homes very much?

One easy answer is by partnering with urban planners to preserve the heritage of a city while building sustainability into the community. Bordeaux, France is one example of success in these efforts. With so much of the town protected for historic preservation, developers worked to ensure that the city had a sustainable transportation system and a clean connection to the river as a way of supplementing clear energy.

However, not all communities and homes have the advantages of clean transportation and hydroelectric resources. In places like Tucson, Arizona, innovations like high voltage power lines threaten historical districts, creating a dilemma for the residents of the town

Streamlining the town’s power grid shouldn’t have to come at the cost of historical preservation, and vice versa. Fortunately, for most historic homes, sustainability practices can be integrated to protect both energy needs and housing conservation.

Hacks for Integrating Renewable Energy into Older Homes

No matter what conservation provisions protect the integrity of a home and its history, there may be some things you can do to streamline the sustainability of the property by incorporating renewable energy. While every home is different and cities across the world have varying standards, renewables can and should be considered when it comes to supplementing power.

These are just a few of the home hacks you can use to turn a historic home just a little more green:

  • Find ways to integrate solar panels that do not obscure historic rooflines, as required in some districts. On a pitched roof, for example, solar panels cannot face public streets. 

  • Place pole-mounted solar arrays in areas of the property unseen from public roads.

  • Use a manufactured screen or vegetation to maintain the aesthetics of a building or roof as seen from public view.

  • Consider wind turbines if they can be placed in a way that will not obscure or alter the character of the building. 

  • Lobby for common-sense renewable allowance if your location does not have them, such as allowing road-facing solar panels upon city approval.

  • Explore the latest renewable energy tech that can integrate with older homes without much alteration.

These strategies may not be possible in every locale, however, they are a good place to start when looking to streamline your power grid with renewables. Explore your city’s code before making any changes to a historic home, then consider which of these tips you might apply.

Additionally, you can take action to support a more energy-efficient historical home even if completely renewable energy is not an option. Here are some tips for conserving energy on a larger property, whether it be for a business or a residential space:

  • Install LED or halogen lighting.

  • Make use of lighting dimmers and timers, if possible.

  • Consult electricians and energy professionals to explore more options.

  • Upgrade windows and insulation where possible, while maintaining the character of the home.

  • Use smart technology to control power and resources.

By applying these tips, you can cut down on the use of fossil fuels in historic homes, making for a greener, cleaner future. Historic properties are worth preserving, and renewables can help eliminate their worst features for greater value. 

The Best of Both Worlds: Historic Houses and Clean Energy

Adding value to a home is important even when considering historic properties. A higher estimated worth means more eyes on all the property has to offer. This can be an investor’s dream. Fortunately, sustainability is one of many modern upgrades that can boost the value of any home and give you greater resources to preserve and maintain its historic character. 

Despite the barriers to renewable energy integration faced by historic properties, savvy power industry professionals can still find ways to streamline clean energy use for any protected property. It all comes down to unique ordinances in your area and how you can cleverly use and disguise renewable sources to maintain the nature of the home.

Follow these strategies to best integrate renewable energy into a historic home. Even if renewables aren’t possible, you can at least increase the efficiency of existing power grids to improve a historic property while preserving its character.

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