Heating Options for Old Homes


If you are contemplating the purchase of an older home in the greater Northern Virginia area or already live in an older dwelling, ensuring that the building will provide your family with sufficient heat should be a major concern. Modern families are accustomed to heat on demand and may need to upgrade the heating system to remain comfortable.

As long as you work with heating, ventilation and air conditioning professionals with plenty of experience providing service for older homes, you can rest assured that your house will soon have reliable, consistent heating that doesn’t result in inflated energy bills. If professionals determine that the home is unsuited for a central heating system, you have other options, such as an upgraded fireplace or radiant floor heating.

Establish a Baseline with an Energy Audit

Before upgrading the heating in your older home, it’s prudent to see what the current energy usage levels are.

Have a professional conduct an energy audit to see how efficient the heating is today. Then you can compare energy usage after the upgrade to see how much you are saving.

Plug Leaks, Fix Windows and Add Insulation

It almost goes without saying that you should also have a professional search for leaking air throughout the home, since otherwise you are throwing away money by letting hot air escape outside during the winter. Check for window leaks and either repair them or install new windows, depending on the age and severity of their condition.

You will also want to add insulation to your home to further keep the warmth inside from your new heating system.


A fireplace may already exist in the home. If your dwelling still has an original wood-burning fireplace in the living room, you can consult with HVAC professionals about upgrading it to burn natural gas or propane.

When adding more gas piping to the structure is unwanted, you can add a modern electric heat insert that simulates flames while providing a steady release of warmth.


If you would like to preserve the historical feel of an older home, radiators may be just what you’re looking for, with hot water and steam radiator options both available to you.

Homeowners sometimes keep the radiator heat distribution system that’s in place but upgrade with modern, flatter radiators made of metal panels. These can remain hidden below covers made from wood or additional metal, depending on your aesthetic preferences.

Optionally, you can rely on baseboard heating, where your HVAC professional will install copper pipes for heat delivery to hide them behind the vintage baseboards.

Radiant Floor Heating

As an alternative to conventional heat delivery systems that bring heat to fixed areas, radiant floor heating is an elegant solution that will provide your family with steady heat throughout the rooms.

Older radiant floor heating may have leaks or corroding pipes, so if you are facing this situation, ask your HVAC technician about possibly replacing the pipes with a panels that are fed with new, reinforced tubes to circulate hot water.

Fixing up and maintaining an older house can be quite rewarding in spite of the extra work that is typically involved. By upgrading or installing a new heating system, you will not only keep your family warm and safe during the coldest months of the year, you will also add more value when it comes time to put the home on the market. At AirPlus, our team has plenty of experience helping owners of older homes in the greater Northern Virginia area to inspect equipment, conduct energy audits and consult on the best options for a heating system solution. For details on our heating services or to make an appointment, please contact the HVAC professionals at AirPlus today.

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