This simple and cheap process can help keep your house warm as temperatures drop and cool when they come back up.
As temperatures start to fall in the northern hemisphere, furnaces are starting to kick on and heating bills are starting to creep up. You can keep more money in your pocket by putting in a little effort right now.
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While you can take a few steps to adjust how your furnace is running — adjusting your thermostat or replacing your furnace filter — you can also adjust how your house retains heat, by using weather stripping. It’s easy to install and has benefits all year long.
If you aren’t familiar with weatherstripping, you can find a detailed description below. But in short, weatherstripping involves sealing up the doors and windows in your home to prevent air leaks. This improves the energy efficiency of your house and lowers heating and cooling costs throughout the year.
In this guide, we’ll explain why weatherstripping is an effective way to reduce utility bills and offer a few tips to help you start using this simple and cost-effective energy-saving strategy in your home. For more money-saving tips, check out how much you can really save by unplugging your appliances.
What is weatherstripping?
The term “weatherstripping” is both a verb and a noun. First, weatherstripping is the action of adding insulating material around doors and windows, with the goal of stopping airflow in and out of your home. But it’s also the name for the materials used in the weatherstripping process. To use both terms together: You could weatherstrip a drafty window with metal weather stripping.
Weatherstripping is popular with budget-conscious homeowners, largely because it’s a cheap home improvement task that can be done without a professional. After a quick trip to your local hardware store, you can properly weatherstrip your home in a few hours or less.
Ways to use weather stripping around your home
From doors to windows to attic hatches, there are plenty of ways to use weather stripping at home. Each area that you weatherstrip will have a slightly different process, which we’ll cover below. However, there are a few basic rules to follow before you get started.
First, you’ll want to know where air is escaping or entering your home. To do this, choose an exterior door or window and put your hand up near the frame. If you feel air blowing, there’s leakage occurring and you should weatherstrip that area. Not sure if you’re feeling air? Light a candle, hold it near the door or window frame and see if it flickers. If it does, it’s time to weatherstrip.
When you’re ready to start weatherstripping a particular area, clean it with soap and water, and then let it dry completely. Weather stripping doesn’t stick well to dirty surfaces and is likely to come loose over time.
With that out of the way, let’s look at three ways to use weather stripping around your home to seal up drafts and potentially reduce your utility bills.
If you’re new to weatherstripping, a great place to start is with your home’s exterior doors. Sealing up the space between the floor and the bottom of your door effectively keeps wind and rain out and ensures that your home stays comfortable.
Vinyl, rubber and metal are among the best types of weather stripping for doors. Many retailers sell door sweeps or gaskets, which screw into the bottom of your door and create a barrier to keep the elements (and pests) outside. Try to avoid using flimsier materials (like felt) in this area, because they can wear down faster with repeated opening and closings.
You may also want to prevent air from leaking out the top and sides of your door frame. In that case, you can nail or screw metal weather stripping along the edges of the frame.
Like exterior doors, windows are an ideal place to use weather stripping in your home. There are several ways to weatherstrip your windows, depending on the materials and style.
For example, let’s say that you want to weatherstrip a wooden window that slides open vertically (such as a double-hung window). In that case, you’ll want to attach the weather stripping in a few places, including on the lower sash and inside the window jambs.
For the sash, attach a piece of adhesive foam, tape or vinyl weather stripping along the bottom of the lower sash (where it meets the sill). It should create a tight seal when you close the window. Then, peel and stick V-channel (also known as V-strip or tension-seal) weather stripping along the tracks where the window slides before securing it with finishing nails.
The process is simpler if you have casement windows, which sit on a hinge and need to be opened with a hand crank. To seal them, all you need to do is apply tape weather stripping to the top, bottom and sides of the window stops.
No matter which type of windows you have, make sure that you don’t put weather stripping anywhere that it could come loose when you open or close the window.
Interior doors leading to uninsulated areas
Another way that air can leak in and out of your home is through uninsulated attics, basements and garages. Fortunately, weatherstripping the doors that lead to these areas can reduce energy loss and keep your living space more comfortable.
For attics, the weatherstripping process will depend on the type of entrance (for example, an access panel or pull-down stairs). Either way, the Department of Energy recommends installing wooden stops around the door and then applying tape weather stripping on top of the new stops, which will create a tight seal when you close the attic door.
Similarly, if you have an interior door that leads to your basement, you can seal it by placing peel-and-stick weather stripping around the frame. You’ll also want to add a door sweep to keep drafts from sneaking in between the bottom of the door and the floor.
Where to buy weather stripping
You can buy weather stripping in all its many shapes and forms from your local hardware store or national retail giant. You can explore your options at the following places.
Consider your needs
Although these three areas are the most popular places to apply weather stripping, there are also other places where it can be useful — like garage doors and skylights. Consider your home’s needs and adjust accordingly to ensure a strong seal in the places that need extra insulation the most. Once you do, less of your home’s heat and air conditioning will leak outside, and less air from outside will leak into your home.
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