We often don’t give a lot of thought to weatherproofing during the spring and summer months, unless it gets extremely hot. That’s because for some reason it may not seem as hard to keep a house cool. This may have to do with the use of ceiling and floor fans or simply because summers aren’t that hot where you live.
It’s usually the winter that makes us sit up and take notice of even the smallest hint of a drafty area. That’s when we start trying to figure out ways of weatherproofing doors and windows that will keep the heat in and the cold out.
The fact is, however, that no matter if it’s air conditioning or heat that’s being lost through drafty doors and windows, up to 25 percent of the heated or cooled air is being wasted. This may not sound like much, but that can add up over time, causing higher utility bills as well as additional wear and tear on a heating or air conditioning unit, as it has to work harder to keep up with demand.
There are several methods of weatherproofing windows and doors that will really help decrease drafts, if not eliminate them all together. Most of them are relatively inexpensive, and can be performed in the spring or fall, while the weather is still moderate, but before increased energy needs occur.
Here are some ways you can weatherproof your home:
1. Locate the drafts
Look for open spaces around windows and doors by turning lights off on the inside of the house and shining flashlights through windows or doors from the outside. Have someone stand by the windows and doors and tell you if they see any of the outside light coming through cracks or small openings. If it can be seen, there’s your draft. You can also use a thin sheet of paper such as a piece of bathroom tissue, facial tissue or even tissue paper like you use for gift-wrapping and decorating.
Hold the paper up so that a corner is resting close to (but not touching) the door and window frames. If the paper moves, you’ve found your draft. You can also use a candle or barbecue lighter, and watch for the flame to flicker in the presence of drafts. However, you’ll need to be careful of flammable materials around the frame.
2. Inspect and replace weatherproofing materials
Once you have located the sources of the drafts, use weatherproofing material around doors and window frames. You can buy the thin weatherproofing that comes in a roll with an insulating side and an adhesive side, or you can buy wider strips of weatherproofing material. If you buy the wider kind, it may have adhesive or you may need to purchase small nails or tacks to fasten it into place.
This is also a good time to check the caulk on windows. If it is split or flaking off, go ahead and re-caulk those areas. This can also cut down on drafts.
3. Be Generous when applying weatherproofing to windows and doors
Don’t be stingy; go ahead and apply the weatherproofing material all around the door and window frames, not just in the places where the light was shining through. The more you put on, the more energy you’ll save. Just make sure the doors and windows shut firmly. Trim the material if necessary.
4. Think exterior as well as interior
Don’t forget that outside doors and windows have two sides. It may be necessary to put weatherproofing material on both sides. However, there are a couple of other ways you can stop drafts on the inside of the house. You can use draft guards along bottoms of doors. You can use the cute little ones that look like pets or other things, or plain old utilitarian ones. Even old towels stuffed against the bottoms of the doors, or area rugs pulled up against closed doors can help.
In extreme cases in the short term, hang blankets or heavy sheets over windows or doors. It may look unattractive, but you can always take them down if you’re having company.
5. Think about seasonal window coverings
Consider doing like they did in the olden days — having summer drapes and winter drapes. Hang light, sheer ones in the summer, and darker, heavy ones in the winter. Just make sure you can raise the winter ones or pull them back on sunny days to take advantage of natural solar heating, and put something behind the sheer ones — a light-colored, lightweight shade for instance — to block heat during the summer.
6. Secure and seal air conditioners and vents
Cover the outside of window air conditioners with plastic and duct tape, and apply weatherproofing around them on both the outside and inside. Cover rotating vents on tops of houses during the winter. Also apply weatherproofing around the bases of these, as well as the part that is in the attic ceiling.
If necessary, replace older windows with more energy-efficient double-paned or storm windows. The initial extra expense will be recouped in lower energy bills.