Weatherize Your Windows: Tips to Keep Your Home Warm This Winter

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Intro

Brrr…feel that cold? When you have phantom drafts, chilling out at home takes on a whole different meaning. Drafts can be a real drag—especially during the height of winter, when all you want to do is curl up by the TV until the weather subsides.

And we haven’t even gotten to your energy bills! Drafts can cause winter heating costs to skyrocket—not great news, considering that average heating costs range somewhere between $600 to $2,000, depending on the type of fuel you use.

The good news is that you can put a significant dent in those costs with a DIY improvement that will run you less than $10.00. Weatherizing your windows with caulk and foam tape prevents drafts that can lower your home’s temperature, forcing you to crank up the heat and driving your energy bills up. Here’s how you can get better heating performance—all with a quick afternoon project.

little girl sitting by the window

Detecting Air Leaks

Just because you can feel a draft doesn’t mean you can locate its source. That’s where this little test can come in handy. Here’s how you do it.

  • Turn off the heat to eliminate air movement from the vents.
  • Light a candle and take it around to each window.
  • Hold the candle still. If the flame flickers, you have a draft near that window.

caulking windows

Applying Silicone Sealant

Once you’ve determined where the air leaks are coming from, it’s time to get down to weatherizing! And your first move will be to remove the existing caulk around the window panes and to replace it with new sealant.

This applies to any windows where you detected drafts, but you should also perform a visual inspection of the caulking around other windows as well. If it is dry and cracking, it should be replaced.

  • Use a razor blade or utility knife to scrape out the existing sealant.
  • Wipe off any dust or sealant remnants with a damp cloth.
  • Dry off the surface and spread a fresh bead of silicone sealant at the point where the window glass meets the pane (do not apply caulk to the window’s moving parts).
  • Smooth the silicone down with a cloth to form a complete seal.
  • Don’t forget the glass on your doors either! They can use some love too!

 insulating with foam tape

Adding Foam Tape

Next, you’ll need to address the other parts of your windows: specifically the sides that go up and down. You can accomplish that by placing adhesive foam tape around the outsides of each sash. Remove the paper backing and press it into place with your fingers.

Going the Extra Mile: Other Weatherproofing Strategies

Sometimes your windows might need a little extra oomph, especially if they’re older or if you don’t have storm windows. Luckily, there are a couple of techniques you can use for extra insulation.

  • Window Film: This self-adhesive polyester film sits over your windows to form an insulating seal and block drafts. It’s easy to add, costs less than $15.00 and is available for purchase at your local home improvement store.
  • Thermal Curtains: Thermal insulating curtains typically have two or three layers of thick fabric, combined with a layer of acrylic foam to prevent air infiltration and cold. Costs vary, but you can typically find them for less than $50.00.

A warm home and lower energy bills? Now that’s a cool deal! (But you know, not literally cool.)