As winter approaches and temperatures continue to drop, it is time to start preparing your furnace, space heaters, pellet stove, or some other appliance to stay warm. Heating your rooms dramatically increases your energy costs, so you’ll probably be looking for ways to spend as little as possible on energy.
Winterizing the openings in your home by sealing drafty doors and windows is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent heat loss, improve the efficiency of your heating system, and reduce your energy costs by up to 30 per cent. You can detect air leaks and seal them off using readily available materials yourself, but if you live in an older home, you may need to consider professional door replacement.
So, how do you winterize your doors the right way?
Step 1: Check for air leaks
Before you start sealing your doors, it helps to identify the draftiest areas so you can focus on those areas first for a big effect.
- It is best to check for leaks during the day. Close the exterior door and inspect the door frame from inside the house for any traces of sunlight passing through. Any gaps that let light through will also allow warm air to escape and cold air to enter, and must be sealed.
- Alternatively, you can check for gaps at night by asking someone to shine a flashlight all around the door frame from outside or inside – while you stand on the other side of the door and watch for any light beams that pass through.
- You can also check for air leaks by passing a lit candle around the edges of the door on a windy day. Any leaks will cause the flame to flicker. You can also use an incense stick and watch for any deviation in the direction of the smoke to detect drafts.
- Finally, you can check for drafts by placing your damp hand over areas you suspect to have a leak and see if you feel a cool breeze.
Step 2: Seal the air leaks
If you detect air leaks using any of the techniques above, you can seal them in a number of ways, including:
- Filling any visible holes and cracks with caulk. Depending on the size of the gap, apply the caulk on the inside and outside of your door frame, and allow each layer to dry before reapplying if you deem it necessary.
- Applying weatherstripping around the doorframe in areas that let in drafts when the door is completely closed. For wider gaps, you may need to apply more weatherstripping.
- Placing a draft guard at the bottom of your door where it meets the threshold. Alternatively, you can roll up a blanket or towel and place it at the base of your exterior or interior doors to keep cold drafts out.
- Closing your door with the deadbolt to strengthen the seal around the door. Also remember to check for debris in the latch pockets so you can secure the door properly.
- Applying insulating films to glass doors and the glazing to improve the thermal rating of the glass
- Replacing a worn door threshold
- Fixing the door alignment to ensure that it is perfectly vertical. If the door appears to be slanted, try to tighten the hinges and adjust the strike plate
- Weatherstripping the garage door to prevent cold drafts from entering under the door or through the door (by placing foam panels to the inside of the door using double-sided tape).
You should also ensure that the entry door remains closed at all times, and is shut immediately after someone enters or leaves to prevent warm air from escaping. To improve the operation, consider lubricating the hinges. This will also increase the longevity of your door.
Step 3: Install a storm door
In addition to the steps above, you may consider installing a storm door for extra protection if your region experiences extreme or harsh winter weather. Storm doors are installed on the exterior of your entry door to act as a barrier against strong drafts, snow, hail, and other forms of precipitation.
Storm doors are claimed to improve your home’s energy efficiency by up to 45 per cent, especially when combined with storm windows that improve on drafty windows. Storm doors also offer flexibility when it comes to letting daylight into the home or improving ventilation. When shopping for storm doors, look for those that are Energy Star certified, and request for professional installation.
When winterizing your doors, also check for air leaks around other openings, including windows, vents, vertical plumbing stacks, attic stairs, recessed attic lights, and wall electrical outlets that absorb the heat generated indoors and transmit it outside. You may also need to insulate the attic and crawl spaces to optimize your heating efficiency.