When temperatures drop each winter, it’s time again to crank up the heat. Firing up the furnace, pellet stove, space heaters, or whatever works best in your home raises your energy bills, and if you’re like most people, you’d prefer to pay as little as possible.
Winterizing doors in your house and sealing air leaks around exterior doors is one of the best ways to minimize your energy costs. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that up to 30% of your energy use can escape through unsealed doors and windows. Fortunately, you need only a few low-cost items to detect and seal air leaks. Professional door replacement may be necessary if you live in an older house, but chances are you can improve your home’s energy efficiency on your own with a little DIY winterization.
Phase 1: Detect Air Leaks
You could seal every door in the house, but it’s worth taking the time to locate the draftiest areas first so you can close those gaps and begin to save energy right away.
- During the day, close the exterior door completely and, from inside the house, look all around the doorframe for traces of sunlight. If you can see light, you have air leaks.
- Have somebody shine a flashlight on one side of the doorframe at night while you watch for light beams passing through the seal.
- Pass a lit candle or incense stick around the door edges. Existing air leaks will make the flame flicker or the smoke move in the direction of the draft.
- Place a damp hand over suspected leaks to detect a cool breeze.
Phase 2: Seal Air Leaks
If one of your tests reveals a leak, follow one or all of these techniques to help trap warm air inside your home:
- Fill all visible cracks and holes with caulk. Be sure to check for openings on the inside and outside of the doorframe. Allow enough time for the caulk to dry, and reapply as needed.
- Apply weather stripping around the doorframe. Periodically check that you can close the door all the way. Note that you may need to apply extra weather stripping where leaks are wider.
- Add a draft guard between the bottom of the door and the threshold. If you prefer, you can also roll up a towel and place it at the base of your door for the same effect.
- Anytime you close the door, lock the deadbolt to strengthen the door’s seal.
Now that you know how to winterize your doors, be sure to also inspect your windows for air leaks. Call on Sears Home Services if you need help with a home energy assessment or when the time comes to replace your windows or update to brand-new, energy-efficient entry doors. Until then, stay cozy.