If your home feels even a little drafty in winter, you need to see it as a great opportunity. You get to dramatically improve the comfort level of your home at little outlay and save considerably on your heating bills.
There could be multiple causes behind the draftiness that you feel. Sometimes, it can simply be a poorly functioning furnace. A furnace with a clogged dust filter, for instance, will often put out inconsistently warm air that feels like draftiness. Mostly, though, if you feel a little cool movement in the air standing next to the doors or windows, you probably have a problem with air leakage.
Test for it
If you were to call in a window installation or repair crew, an infrared thermal leak detector is what they would reach for first (you could buy one yourself for less than $50). Scanning the outside of your home, they would find exactly where all the cracks, gaps and leaks were, and tell you what to do about them. You could even ask your local utility company to come in and do the testing for free. It’s called an energy audit.
If you’d like to try your own methods and don’t want to spring for a high-tech detector, you could try a smoke test. Tobacco smoke tends to be an easy scent to catch. You need to shut all the doors and windows tight and turn on a ventilation fan somewhere in the house to create negative pressure. Then, you can have someone stand at each window holding a lit cigarette. If the smell makes its way in, you’ll know there’s a leak somewhere around that window.
There are other, easier ways to look for air leakage. You could hold a flashlight against each door and window frame at night, and have someone stand outside to look for light going out through cracks or gaps.
What do you do about it?
In some cases, sealing air leaks by yourself isn’t hard. You’ll need to get new weather-stripping for the doors and windows, and apply it yourself. Alternatively, you could either get a home improvement contractor to apply a coat of exterior-grade caulking around each door and window, or read up on doing it on your own.
Chances are, everything else leaks, too
If your home has construction poor enough to allow air leakage around the doors and windows, chances are excellent that there is air leakage through the baseboards, the utility service inlets, switch plates and dryer vents too. You’ll need to get caulking and pay attention to these problem areas, as well.
It’s possible there’s no actual air leakage
Sometimes, it can feel as if a window area is drafty when the problem really comes from poor insulation. Draft-proofing will not help then. You have a number of options. If it’s at all possible, you should look into having energy-efficient windows installed.
Quality windows can lower energy waste, improve interior comfort and add to your home’s market value. If installing new windows doesn’t sound like an option, you might consider heavy, insulating curtains to thermally cut off the windows from the rest of the room.
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