Find out how plugging window and door leaks can help reduce your energy bill.
Can your home deal with weather extremes? Sweltering summer heat and frigid winter temperatures mean that it’s especially important to make sure your home is as energy-efficient as possible. Weatherizing your home can make your living space feel more comfortable and cost efficient. Simple steps, such as installing weather stripping and sealing leaks with caulking, can go a long way to making your home airtight. Here's how.
Have Your Home Assessed
A certified energy advisor can perform a walk-through assessment of your home and conduct a “blower door” depressurization test to identify leaks and drafts. You will then be given a personalized Energy Efficiency Evaluation Report and suggestions for making upgrades to your home that can reduce your energy bills. On average, a homeowner can reduce their annual energy bill by up to 30 percent after performing energy-saving upgrades. While some upgrades may be more involved and expensive, repairing window and door leaks and adding weather stripping are the most simple and economical ways to save.
Repair Window And Door Leaks
Air leaks in windows and doors can be caused by a few factors, such as loose joints or glazing, warpage, rot, damaged weatherstripping or faulty hardware. Applying caulking or weather stripping to plug these air leaks reduces heat loss through windows quickly and easily. To find an air leak, hold a piece of tissue or plastic near your window frames on a chilly or windy day. If the tissue or plastic flutters, you've detected a draft. You can also use the smoke of a lit incense stick to find leaks.
Seal Leaks With Caulking
On a fixed window, apply caulking to fixed joints, where the interior window trim meets the wall and where the sash and frame come together. Be sure to use a good quality product that is made for indoor use and can be painted. On other windows, air leakage can be stopped by applying a continuous bead of caulking around the trim, at the mitred joints of the trim and between the trim and the frame. If you have windows that you do not plan to open and that are not needed as emergency exits, consider sealing them shut for the winter by using easy-to-remove tape or peel-and-strip caulking.
A window’s exterior should be caulked only after you’ve completed the interior sealing process. If the exterior is caulked first, it can trap warm, moist air in the wall, which can be damaging over time. Also, be sure not to use exterior caulking products indoors, as they may give off toxic fumes.
Ideally, there should be an airtight seal between a window’s operating sash, the sill and the frame. Weatherstripping is used to prevent air leaks where an operable window’s moving parts meet. If you have older, wood-frame windows, then select good quality, self-adhesive plastic V-strip weatherstripping. This product can be installed in tight spaces and can usually be applied without removing any part of the window. Hinged windows may require a combination of V-strip and compression-type weatherstripping.
For single-hung windows that have one fixed sash and one operable sash, weatherstrip the side of the sash and the meeting point of the upper and lower sashes. On a sliding window, replace brush weatherstripping by removing the sash and pulling the worn weatherstripping out of its slot. Cut new weatherstripping to the required length and slide or snap it into place. Then, staple or tack the ends of the brush to keep it in place before you reinstall the sash.