7 Ways to Stop Drafty Windows and Doors

Woman in sweater, leggings, and cozy socks reading by a large window with snow outside

This winter has been brutally cold in many parts of the United States and around the world. What can you do to stay warm and toasty inside your home? And, just as importantly, how can you keep your electric bills under control even when it’s freezing outside?

When old windows and doors aren’t sealed properly, you can have air leakage into and out of your house. This dramatically increases your heating and cooling costs, which can be a rather depressing realization.

We are here with great news for you! There are many simple ways to prevent drafts and cold air from seeping into your home this winter for all kinds of budgets. 

1. Install a door sweep or a door draft stopper.

A door sweep is attached to the door itself. It has a rubbery fin that closes up any gaps under your door. This prevents cold air from entering under your doors by sealing up any openings or cracks. 

A door draft stopper is not attached to the door. It’s a long bean-bag covered in cloth that lays in front of the bottom of your door. 

This DIY measure is inexpensive and very effective if you have a space under the door.

Choose from a variety of options including weighted door snakes, a door sweep with weather stripping, Velcro door draft stoppers, and others. Decorative varieties of door draft stoppers are available that look like dogs, cats, and other animals.

2. Install plastic shrink film.

Shrink film provides energy savings by sealing a gas-filled pocket in thin plastic. To install, use a hair dryer to get rid of wrinkles and help prepare the plastic for your windows. Use double-sided tape to stick to the window frame of any type of window. Then simply remove the shrink wrap when the season changes. 

The key to the effectiveness of this method is proper installation. It has to be sealed tightly to keep the air pocket trapped between the plastic and your window or it won’t work.

Plastic shrink film is inexpensive and effective for single-paned windows when done properly. But it is difficult to install correctly, unattractive, and obscures the view through the window. Also, this method isn’t for double or triple-glazed windows.

3. Weatherstrip around windows and doors.

Weather strips stick to the edges of window frames and door frames where they connect with the wall. They create a seal that prevents air leaks. 

This method is inexpensive and effective. It’s easy to install but removing all the adhesive can be challenging. And the weatherstripping can’t improve the energy efficiency of the glass in the window.

Check out the weather stripping kits available at Lowe’s or Home Depot. You can also buy weather strips for the bottoms of your entry doors to keep cold air from slipping in under the door.

4. Caulk around windows frames and door frames.

Caulking works much like weather stripping but involves applying a putty-like substance, caulk, along the cracks between windows or doors and the frames. This seals any holes and prevents leaks which increases the energy performance of your home.

Caulk is inexpensive and relatively easy to install. Exterior caulk should be used for the outside of all the windows in your home. Interior paintable caulk should be used for the inside of windows. When done properly, caulking can make a big difference in energy efficiency.

If you have gaps greater than ¼”, you’ll need to fill those gaps with a foam backer rod first before caulk

large bay window in living space with beige curtains on each side.

5. Use insulating window treatments. 

Some people like to change curtains in the winter to something heavy and insulated. Or you may be ready to install new thermal window treatments. You can do this in addition to some of our other recommendations. The heavy fabric helps to keep cold air from entering the room even if the window is a bit drafty.

Thermal lined curtains and cellular blinds can make good choices for energy-efficient window treatments.

These treatments can be more expensive than caulking or weather-stripping but are fairly easy to install if you have a drill and a bit of experience. 

6. Install storm windows and storm doors.

Interior or exterior storm windows provide insulating glass with an air space that keeps your heated or cooled air inside your home and the outside air out. 

Why use storm windows? Not only do they boost energy efficiency by adding an insulation effect, but they also reduce outside noise, improve your home’s appearance, and protect your windows from damage.

A glass storm door also goes a long way to help keep your home toasty in the winter and it protects your beautiful entry door from inclimate weather.

Storm windows and doors are more expensive than the other treatments we have discussed so far but less expensive than new windows. Experienced DIYers may be able to install them on their own. Others will want to hire a professional.

7. Replace old windows and doors with new energy-efficient windows and doors.

This is the best long-term solution. Replace old windows/doors that have single panes of glass with double-paned windows that are insulated.

New energy-efficient windows and doors that are properly caulked provide the best protection from cold wintery air and are a perfect long-term solution. 

Windows can be a bit pricey. And they generally require expert installation. But fresh windows can make a huge difference in your energy bill and the appearance of your home.

Check out the National Fenestration Rating Council’s site for more information about choosing doors and windows that will help you save on your energy bills each month. The Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC)’s label provides information on how well each product does with a variety of performance measurements like:

  • U-Factor
  • Solar Heat Gain Coefficient
  • Visible Transmittance
  • Air Leakage

Are you ready to take care of drafty windows and doors at your house in the Columbia, SC area?

Whatever option you choose, our handymen can install it professionally for you. You don’t have to worry about getting up on ladders or figuring out what needs to be done. 

That’s what we’re here for! To take care of your home maintenance and home repair needs. We can also spruce up your home when you are ready to sell.

Please contact us today.

Related

An Energy Audit for Your Home

Getting Ready for Snow in the South

Winterizing Your Home Saves Money

Will a Smart Thermostat Save You Money?

A Home Maintenance Checklist—by Season

Punch List Pros

Punch List Pros

Punch List Pros was founded in the summer of 2017 with the goal of providing professional handyman services for realtors and property owners in the Columbia, SC area.

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