Budget Renovation Tips & Why Old Houses are Greener

Budget Renovation Tips and Sustainable Old house

We want to share with you our top 3 budget renovation tips! We’re using these budget renovation ideas to save money on our 1905 Folk Victorian Farmhouse sustainable renovation. We also explain why old houses are “greener” and more sustainable than new houses by having a smaller carbon footprint.


Well known architect Carl Elefante once said, ” the greenest building is…one that is already built.” This is so true! Buying an old house is actually better for the environment.

There have been many studies about this. Even if you build the most sustainable home it will still take years and years for the embodied energy to be balanced out.

The greenest building is…one that is already built.

– Carl Elefante

When you are calculating the carbon footprint for the construction of a new home you need to calculate all the embodied energy. The embodied energy or embodied carbon includes all of the materials and the manufacturing processes of all the materials, plus the shipment for all of those materials to the building site.

After the building has been built then you have the operational carbon. Operational carbon is after a building has been built and includes the systems that is uses for heating and cooling, etc.

The embodied carbon plus the operational carbon combined is what makes the Life Cycle Assessment. The Life Cycle Assessment will typically be better for an older building because they have much lower embodied carbon since the materials are existing and onsite. (See more at the Carbon Leadership Forum)

Now if you do a sustainable retrofit for an old house, you’ve already saved with the embodied carbon and now you are going to save with the operational carbon. That will lower your carbon footprint overall.

Folk Victorian Farmhouse


That is what we are going to do with our 115 year old Folk Victorian Farmhouse! We’ll be sharing how we make our old farmhouse more eco friendly and energy efficient with our Sustainable Renovation series and how we save money through tax credits and rebates along the way.

You can follow our sustainable renovation on our YouTube Channel ALL OF OUR HOMES or subscribe to our blog. Below is a link to the video series:



Our number one budget renovation tip is to use the Database for State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) website. This resource covers all the states in the USA. It is easy to search and it kept up to date with the latest tax incentives and rebates.


Our second budget renovation tip is for homeowners who have old houses. If you have an old house, like our Folk Victorian Farmhouse which was built around 1905, you should look into Historic Tax Credits. These vary by state. There are some national tax credits, as well as county tax credits too.

We saved 20% on our last round of renovations with Maryland’s Historic Tax Credit which you can learn more about here. How to Save with a Historic Tax Credit | Old House Tips


Our third budget renovation tip is to plan ahead for replacing appliances. Many tax credits and rebates are for upgrading equipment like an air conditioner for example. Plus with the historic tax credits you need approval before you even replace the equipment.

If you plan ahead you can make sure to get approval and the equipment that qualifies for the rebate. Otherwise if you wait for say, your air conditioner, to break down. Then you’ll be scrambling to get whatever is in stock and you may not get the item you want.

We’ve created a free downloadable Appliance Checklist (click link twice if it doesn’t load at first) with equipment life cycle estimates to make it super easy to plan for their replacement.


You can visit our Residential Resources page to find more money saving websites.

budget Renovation tips old houses


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