Energy Efficiency in New Hampshire: Don’t it Make My Old House New?

Because I am someone who believes firmly in the adage “practice what you preach,” as managing editor of, the more I learn about renewable energy, the more I want to incorporate many renewable energy technologies into my own house.

Of course if I’ve learned anything working here, it’s that before you add any kind of renewable energy to a structure, you’ve got to make sure that it is already running at its highest possible efficiency. You want a tight house that uses as little electricity and fuel as necessary to retain a comfortable living environment. And my house has a lot of areas that can be improved.

My house is old. Really old. In fact, it just might be the oldest house in my town.  The tax records go back as far as 1786 and it was already standing then. We have a “Circa 1750” sign by the front door…. ::continue::

Despite its charm and the warm & fuzzy feeling that I get knowing that I’m raising a family in a place where people have begun and ended their lives for the past 250 years, the problem with my house (and virtually all old houses) is leaks. One time my father-in-law described our house as a “sieve.”

The back roof leaked so we put on a metal roof last summer. The front roof leaks if we don’t shovel the snow off of it with a roof rake after every snowfall. The older faucets drip and there are mice in the basement that must be coming in through leaks in the foundation. But for me, the worst part is the air leaks, which mean that the house is pretty darn cold in the winter. In our old house, air leaks in through just about everywhere:  random holes in the wall, cracks in the floors, spaces around the windows and doors and lots more locations that I probably don’t even know about. 

Having just decided that we’d like to stay in our house for a long time (we were thinking of building a new house but have decided not to…more on that later), we arrived at the project of 2009. Stop the air leaks and make the house tighter. We started with an energy audit and I’ll write about that next week.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at

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