Save on heating costs: De-draft your home now

Jennifer Berry

A chilly draft in your house won't just keep you from getting a good night's sleep, but it'll also wreak havoc on your utility bills. So, make sure to protect your beauty sleep - and your pocket book - by hunting down those drafts and stopping them in their tracks.

 "Start with a general walk-through of your house on a windy day. Try to feel where the cold air is coming in," says Marie Leonard, author of the DIY book, Marie's Home Improvement Guide.

Once you've identified where the drafts are coming from, there are a variety of steps you can take to make your home a bit cozier.

Keep reading to learn more…

Tip #1 - Replace Your Windows

This might be one of the biggest improvements you can make to a drafty house, especially if your home has older, single pane windows.

"Most of the older windows are single pane glass, which has no insulation factor at all," Leonard says. "And these older windows tend not to fit perfectly, so over time drafts come in."

And the advantage of replacing older, single pane windows with newer windows can be huge.

"Replacement windows these days are double pane, and they have a gas between the two panes which is an insulating factor," Leonard says. "If they're installed correctly and well, they fit perfectly and seal all the gaps in the wall - virtually eliminating drafts around the windows."

And while Leonard notes that most windows cost between $300 and $500 dollars,  you'll likely recoup some of that money in savings on your utility bills, and your home will feel a lot cozier.

Sounds like a pretty good investment, right?

Tip #2 - Use Caulk To Fill All Gaps

Using caulk to fill in gaps around windows and doors is another way to reduce drafts in your home.

"Permanent caulking, often called window and door caulk, goes around windows and doors where wood meets the wall, like the window or door frame," says Leonard. "Anywhere two different materials connect, a gap can form over time. When you caulk these gaps, you can stop drafts of cold air from leaking in."

Aside from doors and windows, you'll also want to check the gaps around the places where electrical or gas lines enter your house. Why? Because "If it's not a tight fit where these lines come through, air and wind can sneak in," Leonard says.

In addition to protecting your home from drafts, caulking your home's exterior will also help keep water from getting in and protect your walls from water damage.

Tip #3 - Install New Doors

Just like your windows, over time your doors might shift in their frames. When they don't fit correctly, drafts can get in around the edges.

In fact, the Department of Energy's (DOE) website notes that you should always inspect doors for air leaks.

"See if you can rattle them, since movement means possible air leaks," writes the DOE. "If you can see daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window leaks."

As a solution, the DOE suggests you replace your old doors with new, "high-performance" ones.

"Technology has changed," Leonard says. "Exterior doors are built better these days. They have good insulation qualities."

And because a new door can cost up to $1200 including installation, according to Leonard, you'll probably want a professional to handle the installation.

"Hanging doors correctly is very challenging," Leonard warns. "It takes someone who knows what they're doing. Doors don't close easily unless they're hung correctly."

[Looking to make some home improvements? Click to find the right contractor now.]

Tip #4 - Weather-Strip Your Current Windows and Doors

If replacing your door isn't possible right now and you can't stand the drafts coming through, it might be time to update your weather stripping.

This is usually some kind of foam or rubber strip that fits inside the door jamb. When the door closes, it presses against this strip, making an airtight seal to keep drafts from getting in.

"Weather stripping is a good way to get through another winter until you have money to replace a door," Leonard suggests. "Over time, weather stripping doesn't work as well as it used to. But it should be fairly simple to take out the old weather stripping and replace it with new weather stripping."

Another option is a plastic sheeting you stick over your window and window frame, often with double sided tape, and then blow a hair dryer over it. "The heat from the hair dryer shrinks the plastic, creating an invisible, draft-proof barrier," says Leonard. "But it's not weather proof, so make sure you put it on inside your house, not outside."

Installed correctly, weather stripping can go a long way in cutting down drafts around your home.

Tip #5 - Get An Energy Audit

If you've tried some of the suggestions above, but still feel those aggravating blasts of cold air, it might be time to call in the professionals and get a home energy audit.

"You can get a home inspection - a thermal imaging audit," Leonard says. "They'll come, fill your house up with hot air, and see where the hot air leaks out. For people struggling to figure out the problem and find their leaks, this is a great solution."

Not only will an energy audit help you locate your problem areas, but your auditors might suggest some priorities to fix that will help you save energy - and money.

"There are many programs available through state governments or energy companies that offer incentives or rebates to consumers to help them be more energy efficient," Leonard notes.

It's enough to make you feel warm all over.