5 Tips for Cooling Your Midwest Historic Home

From the outdoors, your historic home is the definition of beauty and charm.

Indoors, the summer heat has turned your quaint living space into a beast.   

You can try to tame the temperature with window air conditioners, but they may be noisy, obstruct your view, and look out-of-place in your Midwest vintage home. 

Floor fans help circulate the air but do not prevent your older house from feeling like an oven in the summer. 

How can you cool your living space without altering history?

Keeping Cool and Comfortable in Your Historic Home

Midwest Air Pros can connect you with a top-notch heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) team.

We work with York dealers in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri that can help you balance the need for modern-day cooling with the desire to maintain a vintage living environment. Click our Find A Pro link to choose an expert from our online directory. 

In addition to choosing an HVAC professional for your cooling project, consider these five tips for selecting a cooling system for your historic home: 

  1. Ductless Systems
    Installing bulky ductwork and air vents in your home for a central air conditioning system may require structural changes to your home, jeopardizing its historical integrity.

    You may have to cut through original materials and alter the appearance of walls and floors to place the ductwork. A better option is a ductless AC system that allows you to cool specific spaces in your home.

    A ductless system consists of an outdoor compressor unit that connects to one or more indoor air handling units. You can mount the air handlers on walls and above ceilings or place them on the floor.

    Each air handler operates independently, allowing you to individualize temperatures in each room your ductless system serves. Doing so creates HVAC zoning.

    Ductless systems are highly energy efficient and require a small hole in the wall or ceiling to connect each air handler with the outdoor unit. In addition to cooling, a mini split heat pump can run in reverse and heat your home. 
  2. High-Velocity AC
    Also called a small duct system, high-velocity AC uses tubing instead of large air ducts to carry cooled air throughout your Midwest home. The tubing runs through walls and the ceiling and connects to small, round openings near ceilings or on walls.

    High-velocity air conditioning is energy-efficient, requires a fraction of the space a traditional forced-air system needs, and does not significantly alter your home’s structure.
  3. Traditional Forced-Air
    If you have ductwork in your historic home and prefer a traditional forced-air system, consider inspecting your ductwork for holes and cracks. Any damage should be sealed professionally.

    Caulking around windows and doors, weatherstripping, adding insulation, and sealing cracks in your home’s envelope improves efficiency.

    A home energy audit can help you pinpoint areas in your historic home that need attention. Some older homes contain inadequate insulation or other materials that fall short of modern standards for energy efficiency.

    An audit helps you prioritize energy-efficient upgrades. Through 2032, you can claim a 30 percent tax credit up to $150 on your federal income tax for an energy audit.

    A trusted HVAC team through our Midwest Air Pros network can recommend a ductless system, high-velocity air conditioning, or conventional AC or heat pump system for your home. 
  4. Ceiling Fans
    Whichever cooling system you choose for your historic house, consider adding a ceiling fan to at least one room to assist with the cooling load. Although ceiling fans do not produce cold air, they can create a chilly draft that can help you feel comfortable while you remain in the fan’s proximity.

    Running a ceiling fan while your AC or heat pump is operating allows you to increase your thermostat by 4° Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

    Operate your ceiling fan counterclockwise in the summer. Reverse it during winter to help push warm air downward in your living space. 
  5. Make it Shady
    Do not underestimate the effectiveness of shade in your quest to cool your historic home. Some simple ways to reduce the temperature include: 
  • A robust tree canopy that can shield windows from sunlight can help you beat the heat.
  • Keeping drapes, shades, or blinds closed during the day blocks heat-producing rays. 
  • Historically accurate awnings or shutters can shade windows and doors. 
  • Open windows on breezy, cool evenings. 

Choose Comfort Without Compromising History

A York dealer with our Midwest Air Pros network can help you determine the best cooling system for your historic home. Check our online directory for HVAC experts in Des Moines, IA; Omaha, NE; Kansas City, MO; Springfield, MO; Wichita, KS; and their surrounding communities. Click our Find A Pro link to get started.