As outside temperatures plummet, you should start thinking about how to reduce your heating bills. It is estimated that 10 to 25 percent of the heat in your home escapes through the windows, which means that protecting your windows is one of the best ways to save on energy.
Drafty windows will not only cost you more in heating costs, but they will also make the inside of your house feel frosty and uncomfortable. Furthermore, they will be subjected to environmental stress that will completely destroy them, leaving your home exposed to severe weather.
To completely eliminate drafts, the ideal solution would be to replace your old, leaky windows with new, energy-efficient ones and start the process of winterizing your home. But the costs involved can be prohibitive to many, plus replacing windows in a rented home does not make economical sense.
So, here are a few easy DIY fixes for leaky windows that will improve your comfort level and heating costs:
- Weatherstripping: If you have drafty windows, you should start by identifying the leaky spots. You can accomplish this by moving a lit candle around the window frames, preferably on windy days. Patch any drafty spots with weather stripping to make your home feel warmer and save on energy bills.
- Window Caulking: Window caulking is usually the first line of protection against cold air. Unfortunately, it can crack and form gaps over time. You can easily seal small cracks by simply adding a fresh layer of caulk or rope caulk that is moulded into the gaps. In case you have large cracks or gaps, you will need to remove the old caulk first, so you can replace it entirely.
- Apply Plastic Film: You can apply the window insulation film using double-sided tape to your windowpanes, and then seal it with heat from a hairdryer. This inexpensive clear shrink film allows your rooms to retain up to 55 percent of the heat you generate internally. A good alternative to plastic film is bubblewrap, which is applied with the bubble side of the wrap placed against the glass, and held in place using double-sided tape.
- Draft SnakesYou can effectively stop cold air from entering and warm air from escaping through the windowsills by placing inexpensive window draft stoppers. You can buy draft snakes online, or improvise by filling a fabric tube, such as an old knee sock, with dry rice.
- Rigid FoamFor windows that you don’t necessarily have to let in light or a view of the outside, like attic and basement windows, you can simply cover the panes using a piece of foam board attached to 3/8-inch drywall. Custom cut pieces that will fit snugly inside the frame, and place them with the foam side pressing against the glass. You can easily pop them out when you want day lighting. Keep in mind that basement and attic insulation can significantly help reduce heat loss.
- Rubber Weather SealingYou may also purchase strips of self-stick rubber weather sealing, and then cut them into appropriate sizes that fit your window dimensions. Peel and stick the strips to the window frame to close any gaps that let in cold air or allow warm air to escape.
- Install Storm WindowsMake sure that your old windows are repaired so that they close properly before the cold season begins. In addition, you should consider installing storm windows for an extra layer of protection against the chilly winter air. Alternatively, you can secure clear acrylic panels or plexiglass with screws in the corners of your window frame to keep warm air inside.
- Install Honeycomb Cellular ShadesThe unique design of honeycomb cellular shades allows them to prevent cold air and drafts from passing through the windows and window frames. Always remember to lower your shades at night when the temperatures are lowest, and open them during the day to let the sun warm up your interior.
- Install Layered CurtainsYou may consider using layered curtains or placing heavy fabrics over the windows to keep cold drafts out. You can easily match them to your home decor, though you will need to draw them during the day to let in some sunlight. The curtains should, however, remain closed any time you have the heating on. The curtains should be closely woven and close-fitting, with a snug fit on all sides of the window to ensure that warm air does not move behind the curtain where it will be cooled. You can enhance the seal by using curtain tracks that allow the curtain to return to the wall, creating a seal.
Lastly, you may consider installing solid barriers or pelmets above the curtain rail or strategically position the curtain within the window space to also prevent heat loss through the windows. As with curtains or blinds, you can choose plain or decorative pelmets to match your home decor.