RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Replacement window companies would like you to think that new energy-saving windows are an absolute must if you want to lower your average heating bill or are serious about home weatherization. But if the recession has you cash-strapped, other home weatherization projects, such as sealing air leaks, will save you money right now, without many up-front costs. No matter what kind of windows your home has, there are easy and inexpensive steps you can take to make them more efficient, cut heat loss (and your heating bill), and make your home more comfortable this fall and winter.
Plug Your Leaks
If air can move through or around your windows, it will let in the cold. Even if your curtains don’t flap and the sashes don’t rattle like castanets, you may still have lots of tiny air leaks that can really add up. An easy way to check for air leaks is to light an incense stick, and use the smoke to check for indoor air movement when there is a bit of wind outdoors. Check around the edges of the glass (where the glass meets the wood, vinyl, or metal) to make sure the glazing compound is intact. If not, patch or replace it with a good-quality plastic glazing compound. Replace any cracked panes, too.
Air can also seep between and around the window sashes. Start by securing the locks, as that may tighten things right up. If it doesn’t stop the leaks, install weather stripping and caulk any cracks in the sash or frame, as well as any small gaps between the frame and the wall. Your local home-improvement store or hardware store has many options for patching, but two of my favorites are Mortite (a removable and low-toxicity weather stripping that looks like coils of gray modeling clay) and 100 percent silicone caulk (which is long-lasting, and doesn’t release poisonous chemical fumes the way less-expensive caulks may).