Did you know that you could save as much as 15 percent on your winter heating bills by performing a few winterizing tasks in the late fall? By sealing leaky doors and windows, you are cutting down on the amount of cold air that enters your home, reducing the wear and tear on your furnace or heat pump and saving money along the way. Here are a few ways you can quickly and affordably seal air leaks and keep your home that much warmer in the winter.
1. Use Wintering Plastic Around Patio Doors and Windows
One of the easiest and least expensive things you can do to prevent air leaks in the winter is to install window plastic or film over all the windows in your home. These winterizing kits come with thin clear plastic and double-sided tape. To install, you cut the plastic to fit the size of your window. Just remember to get plastic that is larger than your window’s width and length. Clean the window frame and wait for it to dry. Then, put the double-sided tape along all the edges of your window. For extra air leak protection, consider placing the tape on the outside edges of the window frame. Next, remove the tape backing and carefully press the plastic against the tape. Once you’ve placed the plastic, use a hairdryer to shrink the tape and remove most of the wrinkles. This will seal any air leaks and create an air barrier while still allowing you to look out your windows.
2. Caulk Drafty Doors and Windows
If you didn’t place your plastic on the outside of the indoor frame, consider caulking around the frame with a clear caulk or a caulk that matches the color of your window’s molding. Hardware stores sell indoor and outdoor caulk, and it’s important to get enough caulk to perform the job on every window and door. A good rule of thumb to follow is to buy one tube of caulk for every three to four windows and/or doors. This means that if you have 10 windows and two exterior doors, you should buy at least four tubes of indoor caulk and four tubes of outdoor caulk plus the caulking guns. For indoor application, apply the caulk on the outside edge of the window or door frame where it meets the wood. For outdoor applications, apply it along the edge of the window or door frame where it meets the siding, brick or stone. Once you’ve completed a line of caulk, smooth it with your finger and wipe your finger clean on an old rag that you can throw away once you are finished.
3. Use Foam Tape to Seal Drafty Exterior Doors
Foam tape can be used to seal exterior doors without impacting their ability to open or close. To apply the foam tape, clean the door jamb thoroughly and wait for it to dry. Next, place the foam tape against the outside edge of the jamb along the frame where the door and jamb meet. Press the foam tape firmly in place and cut to size.
4. Consider Using a Door Snake
Door snakes are cloth and foam draft sealers for the bottom of your door. They contain two tubes of solid foam, which is similar to the type of foam similar to pool noodles. The two tubes are covered and connected by cloth that contains enough space between the foam pieces to allow it to slide easily under your exterior door. In order to ensure the door snake fits your door, measure the width of your door and purchase a door snake that is at least as wide as your door and preferably longer. You can always cut it down to size if needed. After you’ve cut the foam of your door snake (not the cloth), slide the snake under your door. This will help prevent cold drafts from entering your home.
5. Switch to Insulated Curtains
Consider switching out your standard curtains with insulated curtains for the winter. These curtains are thicker than regular curtains and when closed, they help prevent drafts and can help save you money on your winter heating bills. Insulated curtains can be purchased nearly anywhere curtains are sold. For added convenience, purchase insulated curtains that fit your current curtain rods so that all you have to do is remove your current curtains and hang your new insulated curtains.
6. Have Your Ducts Cleaned and Sealed
The air ducts that help distribute cold and warm air throughout your home can develop cracks and holes over time and collect dirt, dust, debris and food particles. To help keep cold air out of your home and to improve the efficiency of your furnace, consider getting your air ducts professionally cleaned and sealed. Most HVAC contractors offer this service to homeowners. It involves performing a camera inspection of all your air ducts to locate all the leaks and cracks, then cleaning your air ducts with specialized cleaning equipment and an industrial vacuum that sucks out all the debris. Lastly, they will use specialized tape to seal all the leaks and cracks.
7. Consider Having a Professional Air Leak Test Performed
If you want to increase your air leak detection diligence, you can schedule an air leak test of your home. This test involves the use of an infrared gun that is pointed toward all your doors and windows in order to locate extreme temperature differences. Anywhere there is a temperature difference, there’s an air leak. This test can tell you exactly where your home is leaking air so that you can precisely correct the problem with new insulation and caulking.