Did you know that the number one contributor to high energy costs in the winter months is heat loss through
doors, windows and other exterior openings such as dryer or exhaust vents and exterior wall electrical outlets? Here are a few great ways to drastically reduce your winter energy bills without spending a lot of money. Each of these low-cost quick fixes can easily be done by anyone with little to no skills over a weekend, and can result in up to 40% savings on household energy costs through the winter months. Let’s get started!

First, you’ll need to determine where your heat loss is occurring. I found the easiest way to do this is to use an incense stick and use the smoke to see where the air is moving. Simply light an incense, and hold it up to windows and doors and other exterior wall openings. The best time to do this is on a windy day. It’s pretty simple, wherever you see the smoke blowing away from the opening… that’s an area of air transfer and ultimately “MONEY OUT THE WINDOW!” Now that you’ve located the problem areas here’s some of the products that you can use to quickly and inexpensively seal the leaks.

Simple Tools

Screen Shot 2015-10-11 at 9.13.48 PMUse these simple tools to help you with all of the following projects:

Tape measure
Utility knife
Mini pry-bar
Caulking gun

Step 1

Seal door and window frames with a premium silicone caulking that matches the exterior of your house.

Sealing the gaps between your base molding & your floors can save you $$!

You can find caulking that matches the color of your house.

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Step 2

From the inside, seal any gaps between the window and door frames as well as the wall and around the trim moldings. Apply a thin bead of premium acrylic latex caulk. I’ve found that the acrylic mixed with silicone caulks are easy to use, flexible and clean up easy with a wet rag. This type of caulking is also paintable which is important especially around interior trim moldings.

Tip: 100% silicone caulking is not paintable, and typically recommended for exterior use.

Seal the gaps between your windows & door frames.

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Step 3

Another great and inexpensive way to seal up drafty windows is using a clear “shrink-film” window insulation. This is an excellent, low-cost, alternative to replacing drafty windows and can result in a dramatic reduction of heat loss. Measure window opening, simply cut plastic film to size, apply the double-sided tape around the window opening and stick the plastic sheeting to it. Using a household blow dryer, apply heat to the plastic which will create a shrink wrap effect. When done, the plastic will stretch tight and appear clear providing another layer of insulation between the outside and interior of your home. Depending on your window treatments, consider using the interior or exterior film kit. Both do a great job!

Shrink film window insulation is a great way to keep in the heat!

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Step 4

Using a self-stick rubber or foam weatherstripping tape is another excellent way to seal up drafty doors and windows!

This type of weather stripping is very easy to apply and comes in many sizes and thicknesses depending on the size gap that you are trying to close. Apply the weatherstripping tape where windows and doors make contact with their frames.

Seal up those drafty doors & windows!

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Step 5

Another common place for heat loss is underneath exterior doors. It is common for the weatherstripping on the bottom side of exterior door to get worn out from constant use. Once cracked and damaged, air can move underneath the door.

A simple fix for this problem is installing a new door sweep. Available in slide-on, standard surface mounted, screw-on and even magnetic, a new door sweep can make a huge difference and is super easy to install. This slide-on door sweep installs in less than five minutes and you can clearly see the difference in space underneath this door.

A slide-on door sweep can be installed in 5 minutes!

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Step 6

If you have central air conditioning in your home, during the winter months when the system is not being used, magnetic vent covers prevent air from traveling room to room through your duct system. Ductwork originates from the system which is usually installed in an un-insulated area such as your attic, basement or garage. Cold air can collect inside the duct work during the winter months and travel into your home, putting an extra strain on your heating system. Magnetic covers are an inexpensive solution to this problem, and can be installed in minutes.

Magnetic duct covers are a quick & inexpensive way to seal in the heat.

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Step 7

Install electrical outlet and switch sealers.

  1. Remove cover plates on electrical outlets and switches.
  2. Place foam pad over switch or outlet closing up gaps around the box.
  3. Reinstall cover plate.

A foam pad behind your cover plates helps save energy.

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Step 8

Seal gaps between base molding and floor on exterior walls. Using acrylic latex caulk the gap between the floor and the bottom of the baseboard molding. This will help prevent cold air inside the exterior wall from entering you home. If you’re not too experienced with a caulking gun, use painters tape along the floor to keep your job nice and neat.

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