During the winter months, especially in Indiana, it is much easier to sense where poor insulation is in the home and where air gaps are occurring. This loss of energy may seem just inconvenient for sitting in a specific room near a window, but that heat loss translates into a higher energy bill. Icicles are also a sign of areas around the home with poor to no insulation keeping the heat in. Icicles, while pretty (and dangerous) form when snow or ice has melted off the roof slowly and runs down and builds on itself. Icicles are one of the biggest and most obvious signs that the home is losing heat through its own walls. Winter is not many people’s favorite time to install insulation, however. There are lots of little tricks and improvements that can be made around the home to keep more heat in, and spend less on heating.
The loss of heat, and the prevention of cold air blowing in should be the goal when sealing doors and windows. While there is no way to “seal” the door, as it is an entry and exit, while it is not in use it can be made to be more energy efficient. While weather stripping comes in many different forms (including metal, felt, spring metal strips, tubular gasket, etc), the quickest fix during the winter without losing too much extra heat keeping the door open too long is using self-stick foam weather stripping. This can be bought in rolls, and is easy to find once the weather gets colder.
Basically, you will measure out the door frame’s sides, measure out each piece of foam weather stripping, and affix them accordingly just inside the door frame. The foam will compress and form a temporary seal, enough to buffer income wind and outgoing heat for the winter. Foam with tacks also works for a temporary fix that won’t leave you standing with the door open too long. Once the winter is over however, it is important to take note of where the insulation and weather stripping needs work, so that a permanent fixture may be put into place.
Draft blockers are also an important fix for exterior doors in the winter. A draft blocker can either be one or two sided (reach just the internal, or internal and external for a little more “security” from the draft). A draft blocker is usually made from fabric and is either attached or laid just on the inside base of the door. It helps to literally block the draft of cold that can sneak in under a poorly weather stripped door. This can be done in addition to either acquiring a stick on weather strip for the inside of the bottom of the door, until a more permanent weather strip may be installed.
Windows, like doors, are a source of sometimes unwanted airflow. Windows and sliding-glass doors may be sealed in with a temporary plastic insulation sheet, if desired. This solution is not as aesthetically pleasing, so it is mostly recommended in the case of an extreme draft or for rooms that are not used daily. Buying a kit with plastic wrap for windows, a fixative, and instructions on shrinking the plastic to the window (thus sealing all little gaps at once) is effective for seasonal gripes. There is also temporary caulk that can be pressed to seal around the window. It generally comes in grey or white, to match any existing caulk.
There are many ways to block the flow of cold air in, and keep the warm air from going out. Making a few temporary changes during the winter, and keeping them in mind to make more permanent changes during the warmer months will save you and your family money in the long run on energy bills. Make keeping your family warm a priority this winter.