Drafty Windows? Solutions for Every Budget

Drafts got you down? As outside temperatures plummet, leaky windows can make the inside of your home feel downright frosty—to say nothing of costing you money as your hard-earned heating dollars fly right out the window. Obviously, the permanent solution to drafts is to replace old and leaky windows with new, energy-efficient versions. Not everyone, however, can afford the substantial cost of replacement windows, and for those who are renting a home, expensive projects simply don't make sense. But there are some quick and easy DIY fixes for drafty windows that can make a big difference in both your comfort level and your heating bills. Indeed, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, reducing drafts in a home can result in energy savings that range between 5 and 30 percent per year, while keeping your family snug and cozy. Here are a few easy projects to help dispel those drafts.

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  1. Easy ID

    How to find air leaks in house

    First, find the source of drafts in your home using a matchstick or candle. Slowly move the flame around the window frame. If the flame bends or flickers at any point, use a small sticky note to mark the spot so you can come back and seal it.

    Related: 14 New Uses for Old Candles


  2. Snake Surprise

    Door draft stopper

    Purchase a door draft stopper like this one—or make your own. No more complicated than it needs to be, a "door snake" prevents warm air from escaping (and cold air from entering) your home. Note that similar solutions exist for windows. The advantage of DIYing? Well, for one thing, it's easy and cheap to do. You can even dedicate old linens or socks for the purpose! In addition, creating your own means you can make sure the size of the stopper perfectly matches its placement.


  3. Storm Stoppers

    Interior storm window inserts

    Install interior storm windows. Typically made of either plexiglass or acrylic, inserts like these fit right into existing window frames and dramatically increase insulation at relatively low cost (compared to window replacement). Another benefit: Unlike traditional, exterior storm windows, inserts like these do nothing to compromise the look of your home's exterior.


  4. Modern Shrinky Dinks

    Best window film insulation

    Online and off, most home improvement stores stock plastic shrink film insulation kits. The longstanding favorite even sells on Amazon.com (and at a steep discount). Like other similar products, the 3M Indoor Window Insulator Kit includes all you need to apply insulating film over as many as five standard windows. Double-sided tape holds the film in place until the last step in the quick and easy installation process, when you use a hair dryer to shrink the film in order to achieve an air-tight seal.


  5. Close the Gaps

    Best door weather stripping

    Repair, replace, or add weatherstripping around drafty windows and doors. Duck Brand Heavy-Duty Self Adhesive Weatherstrip Seal works well, costs little, and comes in various sizes. Plus, its rubber construction provides the utmost draft protection. That said, there are many types of weatherstripping worth considering—felt weatherstripping (sold in sheets), V-seal weatherstripping (sold in both plastic and spring-metal versions), and expanding spray foam weatherstripping (sold in aerosol cans).


  6. Caulk Those Cracks!

    Best rope caulk

    Window caulking serves as a first line of defense against cold air. Unfortunately, caulk degrades over time, inevitably developing small cracks and gaps that allow in cold air. Inspect your drafty windows, checking around the window frame for any signs of failure. Small openings may be repaired with inexpensive, user-friendly rope caulk. Larger openings, meanwhile, necessitate the complete removal and replacement of the original, no-longer-viable caulk.


  7. Draft-Stopping Decor

    Insulating window treatments

    Seasonally swap out your lightweight curtains for heavier, insulation-boosting window treatments like draperies, layered curtains, honeycomb shades (which trap air between layers of fabric) or Roman shades.


  8. Fantastic Plastic

    Bubble wrap diy window insulation

    In a pinch? It's nothing more than a temporary solution, but if you need a fix and you need it now, consider using bubble wrap to seal the window. Bubble wrap sells by the roll. If you have some on hand already, simply cut it to size and use double-sided tape to keep the plastic in place.


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