Stay Warm and Save Money
Drafts got you down? As outside temperatures plummet, leaky windows can make the inside of your home feel downright frosty—to say nothing of costing you money as your hard-earned heating dollars fly right out the window. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, reducing drafts in a home can result in energy savings of between 5 and 30 percent per year, while also keeping your family snug and cozy.
There are many ways to cut your heating bill, ranging from installing simple weather stripping to entire window replacement. Ahead, we’ve assembled a list of solutions to fix those drafty windows that suit budgets both large and small.
First, spot the sources of drafts in your home. If you can feel a breeze or draft as you pass or hold your hand near a window, it’s time to address the problem. Other signs are fogged glass or condensation inside windows, between the panes. This means a seal is likely compromised and the windows are not insulating as they should. Finally, visible damage to weather stripping (interior or exterior) likely means frigid air is getting in.First, find the source of drafts in your home using a matchstick or candle. Slowly move the flame around the window frame. If the flame bends or flickers at any point, use a small sticky note to mark the spot so you can come back and seal it.
If still uncertain—and especially if your energy bills have risen with no clear reason—you can check for window drafts using a matchstick or candle. Slowly move the flame around the window frame. If the flame bends or flickers at any point, use a small sticky note to mark the spot so you can come back and seal it.
The bean bag sock snake is a classic solution for drafts, but you typically see it used on doors. This draft stopper from Home Intuition, available on Amazon, works with windows as well by blocking cold air creeping in through the crack between the sash and the sill.
This model is sized to fit windows at 36 inches long. With its 4-inch thick size, fleece material, and polyester fill, it provides an ample barrier against Old Man Winter. Hanging loops are a nice touch, making it easy to store when not in use.
Though more of an investment than other solutions, storm windows, like the Larson aluminum storm windows, are the most effective way to stop drafts. Aluminum storm windows mount to the outside of the window casing, providing an additional insulating pane of glass that prevents cold air from infiltrating the home.
Adding storm windows to your existing windows costs more than most other solutions, and they are more difficult to install. The upside is that they can save you as much as 30 percent on heating and cooling costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Modern Shrinky Dinks
Online and off, most home improvement stores stock plastic shrink film insulation kits. Like other similar products, the 3M Indoor Window Insulator Kit includes all you need to apply insulating film over as many as five standard windows. Double-sided tape holds the film in place until the last step in the quick and easy installation process, when you use a hair dryer to shrink the film to achieve an airtight seal.
Close the Gaps
Repair, replace, or add weatherstripping around drafty windows and doors. Duck Brand Heavy-Duty Self Adhesive Weatherstrip Seal works well, costs little, and comes in various sizes. Plus, its rubber construction provides excellent draft protection.
That said, there are many types of weatherstripping worth considering—felt weatherstripping (sold in rolls), V-seal weatherstripping (sold in both plastic and spring-metal versions), and expanding spray foam weatherstripping (sold in aerosol cans).
Caulk Those Cracks!
Window caulking serves as a first line of defense against cold air. Unfortunately, caulk degrades over time, inevitably developing small cracks and gaps that allow in cold air. Inspect your drafty windows, checking around the window frame for any signs of failure.
You can repair small openings with inexpensive, user-friendly rope caulk, such as this caulking cord that requires only your fingers to install. Larger openings, meanwhile, necessitate the complete removal and replacement of the original, no-longer-viable caulk.
Seasonally swap out your lightweight curtains for heavier, insulation-boosting window treatments like draperies, layered curtains, honeycomb shades (which trap air between layers of fabric) or Roman shades. This set of thermal curtains uses three layers of fabric to provide insulation over the window (when curtains are closed, of course), helping to cut energy bills. They also contribute to the room’s decor.
Article by Tony Carrick and Bob Vila for BobVila©