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Sealing the Deal on Home Energy Efficiency – Weather Sealing

As a child you may have been scolded for leaving the door open. Does the phrase, “are you trying to heat/cool the outdoors?” ring a bell? Well, your parents had a great point. Obviously, it takes energy to heat or cool the air in your home. And when it goes out the door, so does that energy that you paid for. The same concept applies to the more subtle air leaks you may have in your home (most in the U.S. do¹). Weatherstripping your doors, operable windows and other moveable components can help you eliminate chilly drafts and keep your heated/cooled air in your home where it belongs. (Note that caulk is the appropriate material for filling gaps and cracks in stationary components.)

Small investment, great rewards

Since the materials needed to seal air leaks are inexpensive and sealing your home can reduce your energy bill 10%–15%², it’s one of the most cost-effective steps you can take to increase your energy efficiency. Proper weatherstripping not only prevents old man winter from robbing you, it can also help reduce noise from the outside and prevent pollen, dust, and insects from invading your home. Installation is quick and easy, even if you’re not an expert do-it-yourselfer. And even apartment dwellers and renters can draft-proof parts of their homes.

To determine how much you need, simply add up the perimeters of all the windows and doors to be treated. Then, add about 10% to cover any accidental waste. Be sure to check the packaging, so you get strips of the appropriate depths and widths, as well as stripping able to withstand the elements, friction, and other types of wear and tear associated with its location. For example, when applied to the bottom of a door, weatherstripping could drag on carpet or erode as a result of foot traffic.

Vinyl, while slightly more expensive than most other types of weatherstripping, is very durable and excellent at resisting moisture. Metal variations all last for years³ and can provide a nice touch to older homes where vinyl might seem out of place.

Felt strips are a very economical choice, yet rank lower in air-blocking performance. They come in variations that are nailed in place, while others are applied with a pressure-sensitive adhesive backing, which creates a cushioning effect that silences slamming. Great for households with teenagers! In certain cases, you may want to use more than one type/size of stripping to seal spaces that are shaped irregularly.

This is just a brief look at weatherstripping. And while it may seem like there’s an unending number of options out there, don’t feel overwhelmed. With a little research, you can easily improve the efficiency and comfort of your home. If you’d like further advice, you can always ask a hardware store employee. Before you know it, you’ll be stripping money right off your energy bill.

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3. U.S. Department of Energy