3 A/C Tips for Older and Historic Homes

Many people are drawn to older homes because of their historic charm, unique architecture, and quaint touches that you don’t find in modern floorplans. However, along with that charm comes difficulties and frustrations with home cooling. Many homes that are 40, 50, 60 or 70+ years old weren’t build with modern A/C systems in mind. But, with some due diligence, you can retrofit your home with all the modern comforts you’re used to. Here are three ways to do it.

1. Make sure your home’s electrical system is up to date

Modern air conditioners require a lot of power, and depending on how old your home is, your electrical system may not be able to handle it. For example, central air conditioners require a dedicated 230-volt circuit, while many old homes may only a 110-volt circuit. Central air conditioners also require between 20-50 amps of power, compared to the 60 amps of power seen in many older homes. Before you upgrade your air conditioning and/or heating systems, have your home evaluated by an electrician and work with them to get your home the capabilities it needs.

2. Retrofit your home wisely

Retrofitting an older home with a newer central air system can prove problematic. Lack of space and retro architecture can make it difficult to fit ductwork into the existing home without compromising the original floors, ceilings, and finishes. While all retrofitting solutions will require some creative solutions to preserve as much of your home’s original charm as possible, some systems are better options than others.

Ductless mini-split systems

Ductless air conditioning systems, otherwise known as mini-split systems, are a great choice for older homes where space is at a premium, or for those who want a simple, compact, and straightforward way to cool their home. They are ideal for older homes as they can be installed quickly, without the need to install potentially cumbersome ductwork. Additional benefits of ductless mini-split systems include:

  • Energy savings
  • Better air quality
  • Compact size
  • Individual temperature control for each room

Heat pump systems

Heat pumps do not generate heat. Instead, they move heat from one place to another—like from the air outside into your home. This is an effective method of both cooling and heating. Even in cold temperatures, there is still heat in the outdoor air. In the winter, a heat pump uses refrigerant to extract this heat.

Because heat pumps can keep your home comfortable all year round, they’re ideal for older homes without enough space for a furnace and an air conditioner. Some heat pump systems use ducts, while others are ductless and won’t require a mounted air handler in each room.

3. Replace your system if it relies on R22 Freon

R22, also known as Freon, is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC). For many years, it was the standard refrigerant used in residential air conditioners across the United States. This was until the EPA and other government entities decided the production and use of R22 would be phased out, due to concerns regarding its contribution to the depletion of the ozone layer. As of January 1, 2020, the multi-year phase out was completed.

Essentially, this means that if your home has a decades old air conditioner that uses R22 refrigerant, you’ll end up paying a premium for repairs or refrigerant leaks, as the available supply of R22 is limited. The most economical option is to upgrade to a new air conditioner that uses a refrigerant that is currently manufactured, such as R410A.

4. Upgrade to a modern thermostat

Old manual thermostats are seldom seen these days, but you may have one if your home is many decades old. Manual thermostats only support basic functions, like turning the system on/off and setting it to cool or heat. They lack the precision and energy-saving capabilities of modern thermostats, which is why upgrading to one is a smart move. Two of the most common varieties of modern thermostats are programmable and smart thermostats.

Programmable thermostats

programmable thermostat allows you to set the temperature in your home based on your schedule. For example, if you’re home in the mornings, but away at work throughout the rest of the day, you can program the thermostat to automatically increase or decrease the temperature as needed. This helps your system work more efficiently, and reduces the amount of energy you use per month. According to the EPA, homeowners can save around $180 a year by using a programmable thermostat.

Programmable thermostats are available in several different models. Each one offers different levels of temperature customization depending on the days of the week or weekends.

  • 7-day model: If your schedule changes daily, this model allows you to set a different temperature schedule for every day of the week.
  • 5+2-day model: This model allows you to set a temperature schedule for weekdays and for weekends.
  • 5-1-1 model: With this model, you can customize even further by setting a specific temperature schedule for both Saturday and Sunday.

Smart thermostats

Smart thermostats are Wi-Fi enabled devices that can be controlled from your smartphone, computer, or tablet, allowing you to set the temperature in your home from practically anywhere. Smart thermostats are also able to “learn” from your usage patterns over time and will eventually adjust the temperature to your daily habits and the changing seasons. Certain smart thermostats, such as Nest, can also alert you monthly when it’s time to change your filters or if your home has become too hot or cold.

Even with their modern touches and technology, smart thermostats can work in older homes. As long as your home has modern wiring and a reliable Wi-Fi connection, you can take advantage of a smart thermostat system in a home of any age.

New solutions for old homes: The experts at Chas can help

No matter how old your home is, there’s an air conditioning system that’s right for it. Let our pros help you and help bring your home into the 21st century of cooling. Contact us to get started.