Older homes have a lot of character, but they are certainly not known for being energy efficient! Some homeowners are under the impression that there's not much they can do about this -- or that improving efficiency requires them to spend thousands of dollars making renovations to the walls and adding insulation. Thankfully, this is just not the case. If you replace just the four following components of your old home, it will be so much more energy-efficient -- and you won't be broke, either.
1. Exterior Doors
Old doors tend to leak energy left and right. Air seeps around them since they don't lock tightly into the frame, and if there even is weatherstripping on the bottom, it tends to be torn and worn out. Replace your old doors with a new door with an energy-efficient core. It will lock tightly into the frame to prevent air leaks, and the material itself will be an insulator, helping to reduce heat transfer. Energy-efficient doors also tend to feature low-E glass, which reflects heat back inward rather than letting it pass right through like normal glass.
2. Leaky Windows
Replacing all of your windows would be ideal, but probably not realistic. You can save a bundle by identifying which windows are the leakiest, and then replacing just those ones. To tell which windows are leaky, walk around the house with a burning piece of incense. Spend a minute standing in front of the window. If the smoke stream blows all about, that window is leaky and should go on your "replace" list.
3. Light Fixtures
Many older light fixtures do not support LED bulbs, so you have to use older, incandescent bulbs that consume a bundle of energy. Identify which light fixtures you use most often, and have those ones replaced with LED-compatible fixtures. For extra saving, put the fixtures on dimmer switches, so you don't have to turn the lights up any brighter than absolutely necessary.
4. The Thermostat
Even if you can't replace the older HVAC system, installing a new, programmable thermostat will save you a ton of money on energy. You can program the thermostat to turn down when you are not home, and then heat the home again just before your re-arrival.
Make just the four changes above, and your older home will use less energy. As you save money over time, you can then put it towards bigger upgrades like a new furnace and all new windows. For more information on choosing energy saving doors, contact your local home improvement store.