Draft-proof Your House – Seal Up and Save On Energy Bills

No matter how baffling the energy situation is, homeowners are definitely seeing its results in skyrocketing energy bills. It makes homeowners scramble to button up their older houses against both blustery winters and humidity-laden summers. If you know where your home has leaks, you can seal it up to keep out humidity and cold.

Drafts Diagnostic: A Candle and a Hair Dryer

You can use a candle and hairdryer to determine where your home has drafts - it’s not exactly high-tech, but it works. You need two people: one on the outside directing the air from the blow dryer through door jambs and at window frames. The other person follows on the inside with a candle. A candle that flickers or goes out indicates a draft opening that you should seal with weather stripping or caulk.

Caulk and Weather Stripping

Caulking around the frames is no big deal. Buy tubes of caulk in the same color as the trim, lay in a bead of caulk and smooth it with a finger.

Here are some tips for weather stripping window sashes and exterior doors:

  • Weather stripping: There are many weather stripping products. Thin spring metal weather strips work well because they're long-lasting and barely visible when installed. Cut them to length with tin snips and tack in place. After tacking, lift the outer edge of the strip with a screwdriver for a better seal.

  • Door sweeps: Screw door sweeps to the inside bottom of front and back doors to cover the gap between the bottom of the door and the floor.

  • Insulate: Insulate the attic access panel.

  • Drafts: Check newer windows and doors for drafts as well. If an oil or resin caulk was used, it may have pulled loose in as little as one year, depending on expansion and contraction caused by weather extremes.

  • Caulking: Caulk around foundation walls, pipe outlets, the clothes dryer vent and any other gaps on the outside of the house.

  • Draft blockers: Air infiltration from electric switch and plug outlets can also be significant, so it's smart to insert draft blockers. They're inexpensive and readily available at hardware stores and home centers.

  • Weatherstrip overhead doors of attached garages.

Other Ways to Reduce Energy Costs

Here are some more simple and low-cost recommendations to help cut energy costs.

  • Cold weather: During cold weather, set the thermostat at 68 degrees F and leave it alone during the day. Overnight, lower setting by 5-10 degrees. Make sure the thermostat isn't affected by drafts that will give an incorrect reading.

  • Hot weather: During hot weather, set the thermostat at 78 degrees F when you're home and lower it a bit a night.

  • Windows: Develop energy-saving window habits: In the winter, open curtains or shades of east, south and west-facing windows on sunny days to let the sun heat the house. Close them at night to preserve heat. Keep the draperies closed all day on north-facing windows. Do just the opposite in summer.

  • Unused rooms: Turn the heat down in rooms you don't use. And turn the air conditioning off in those rooms or close vents in the summer.

  • Energy surveys: Check with your utility company to see if they offer free home inspections and energy surveys.