If you’re living in a drafty home, wintertime can be particularly rough. It sometimes seems as if you just can’t stay warm. Even after piling on so many layers of clothing that you feel like the Michelin Man, those darned drafts seem to keep you chilled to the bone.
Cranking the thermostat to sky-high settings is one solution, of course. But given the cost of energy these days, it’s a very costly solution. And it’s not a particularly earth-friendly solution.
Another solution is to find and seal-off as many of those drafts as possible. But that’s easier said than done. After all, sealing them is one thing; finding them is another. Drafts are silent and invisible, and finding them can be like chasing ghosts. Here are 4 tips to make the job a bit easier:
Tip #1: Shine a Light. Any crack, crevice or hole large enough to permit air to flow through will also allow light to shine through. Use that fact to your advantage by doing a light check for drafts.
At night, work your way around the perimeter of your house, shining a flashlight from the inside upon any suspected draft locations. Have someone on the outside of the house watching for any light that shines through. Any location at which the light makes it to the outside is, obviously enough, a source of drafts.
The light-test method of draft hunting won’t reveal all drafts; too many draft locations involve turns and twists that will eliminate the light shining through. But this is a quick and easy way to locate some of your worst drafts.
Tip #2: Candlelight Vigil. The flame of a candle can serve as a very effective guide to hidden drafts. Pick a windy day, and make sure that all artificial sources of air movement (fans, furnace, etc.) are turned off. Then, walk slowly around throughout your home with a lit candle. Watch the flame closely for flickering: a flicker means you’ve found a draft.
Alternatively, you can light a stick of incense, and use the smoke as an indicator of currents of airflow.
Tip #3: Pass the Buck. It’s pretty difficult to completely eliminate drafts around doorways and windows. After all, doors and windows must be opened and closed, so installing a permanent, totally airtight seal around them is not practical.
But that doesn’t mean that doors and windows should be sources of significant drafts.
How do you know if the seal around a door or window is tight enough? Here’s a simple test: open the door or window, insert a dollar bill halfway through, and then close the door or window. If the bill can be pulled out without resistance, the seal is too loose. You should have to tug on the bill a bit to pull it through.
Tip #4: Pick Up the Phone. Did you know that many energy suppliers offer free home inspections? It’s true. If your energy supplier offers that free service, why not take advantage? Call up and schedule an appointment, and they’ll send a qualified professional to check for drafts and other energy-wasting problems.
Don’t Be a Draft Dodger
A drafty house can make wintertime miserable. Trying to stay warm can leave you wrapped-up like a mummy and dodging the draftiest areas of your home.
But drafts drain your bank account year round with every single payment of your energy bill. That’s because drafts are two-way streets: drafts that let cold air in during the wintertime also allow cooled air to escape in the summer.
So going on a mission to find and eliminate the drafts in your home is a righteous cause. Though you’re unlikely to find and seal every single draft, every little bit helps. With each draft plugged, winter will become a little more bearable, and the energy bill a bit more tolerable.