Photo: O.PASH (Shutterstock)
With utility bills on the rise, you may be looking for ways to save on energy costs for heating and cooling your home. While there are all kinds of expensive improvements you can make to cut your monthly bill, weatherstripping is a cheap and simple step you can take to make a difference in how much energy you use every month. Here’s what weatherstripping is and how to use it.
The different types of weatherstripping
There are many places in your home that could probably use some weatherstripping. Aside from the obvious doors and windows, sealing up spaces around interior doors between insulated and uninsulated spaces like a garage, basement, or attic door can help cut energy costs. There are lots of types of weatherstripping, from self-stick foam, to rubber and metal varieties. The type you need depends on the size of the gap you’re filling and the opening you’re working on, so figuring out which kind you need is the first step.
For interior windows, you’ll need foam insulation tape, and if you have sash windows that slide up and down to open and close, v-strip or metal interlocking sash stripping is best. Begin by opening the window and attach the tape to the bottom of the window sash where it touches the bottom sill when the window is closed. If the top window moves to open, you’ll also need to put some tape across the top of the upper sash.
Once that’s done, the sides of the window will need to be sealed, as well. Self-stick v-strip can be attached to the inside edge of the channel between the side of the channel and the edge of the sash. If you choose to use metal sash stripping, you’ll need to line it up in the channel with the sides of the sash and nail it in with finish nails. Take care that you don’t obstruct the functioning of the window with the stripping. If you’re not sure which type of stripping is right for your particular window, take pictures of it to your local hardware store to ask for advice.
For doors, the trick is getting weatherstripping that touches the floor and seals any air gaps while also allowing the door to open and close. To cover the bottom of the door, a draft strip is the best choice. These come in self stick and nail on varieties. To install, you need to trim it to fit the bottom of your door and then attach it to the bottom edge of the door so it overlaps the sill. This will give you a good seal when the door is closed.
For the sides and top of a door, you’ll need a product that installs on the inside edge of the door jamb, and that is shaped to close the gap between the door and the inside of the jamb. The process to install this part is just cutting it to fit your door, and then peeling and sticking it to the inside edge of the door jamb. Once that’s done, you should have a good seal all the way around the door.
For other gaps that can cause a draft, like the edges of a hatch to the attic, a vinyl or foam weatherstripping is best. It should be placed on the inside edge of the opening so that when the hatch is close, the stripping is snug between the hatch and the sill it sits on. Sealing up gaps like this can have an impact on both heat loss in winter and air conditioning in summer, and can cut 5 to 10% off of your utility bills.