One of the best ways that you can save money heating and cooling your home is to make sure that your windows and doors are not leaking. Heat from your furnace and nice cool air from your central air conditioning can easily find the small gaps and cracks where your windows and doors meet their frames. Over time, regular maintenance is needed and there are some key things to know in order to make sure that the heat and cool air that you pay for are doing what they’re meant to do and not escaping through poorly maintained windows and doors.
When is it important to inspect your windows and doors?
Generally speaking, you want to make sure you do a thorough check of all windows and doors at least once or twice a year, near the beginning of the change of a season. Some like to do this at the beginning of spring just before the rain comes, followed by the heat of the summer. Another time would be at the end of fall just before you start needing your furnace for heat. It’s widely believed that by maintaining the seals around your windows and doors, the average homeowner can save as much as 20% off their heating and cooling costs. For this reason alone, it’s good to develop an annual or semi-annual habit of checking them and re-sealing them. The gaps that widen in the sealant around window and door frames will allow heat to escape and cold winter air to get in.
How to find leaks
While some of the cracks and gaps may be easily visible, you also have to make sure you look for the smaller less obvious ones, they can allow a lot of warm air to escape and cool air inside during the winter. You may need to feel for them to gauge where they may be. Oftentimes a window or door frame will look completely sealed but on a cold enough day, if you pass your hand near the window, you’ll feel an obvious difference in temperature. Additionally, you can use a candle or incense near windows as drafts will push and pull at the smoke allowing you to see any you may have missed.
How to seal cracks and leaks
After you have found a crack or leak, you will need to seal it. One option of course is to hire a professional that is experienced in locating the leaks and sealing them, however this is not required as you can do this rather inexpensively yourself with a few tools and supplies. Clean rags, a caulking gun, caulk or expanding foam, scissors, a screwdriver and a ladder are about all you really need to get the job done.
There are some obvious areas to start, such as in the basement, where a lot of heat can escape, especially in older homes. Be sure to replace any broken panes of glass, and also remember to seal your dryer ventilation hole if it isn’t already. Again in older homes, you may be able to see daylight from outside creeping in through cracks in the foundation, so make sure to use the caulk or expanding foam to fill these. Another good place to look is where the foundation of the home meets the walls.
When looking at windows specifically, look for condensation that builds up on the window pane – this indicates a break in the seal around the window. For doors, ensure that the weather stripping along the top, sides and bottom are not worn down with use and replace it if necessary.
Other places you may want to look to for saving on energy costs include:
- Insulating water pipes
- Closing blinds and curtains that face the sunlight
- Close off rooms that don’t require constant heating
- Warm yourself rather than the house (slippers, sweaters)
- Top up or add insulation
- Proper roofing that is up to date and in good repair
- Keeping an eye on the temperature that you’re setting the furnace or central air
Lastly, it’s important to note how important a good roof is for your home. As you know, hot air rises, and if you have a roof in poor shape, much of your heat can be escaping right above you. It’s always good to have a reputable roofing company handy, one that you can trust will do the job right, as it will save you money in heating costs.