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How to Seal Windows and Doors From the Cold

How to Seal Windows and Doors From the Cold

Most people who live above the 35th parallel are likely experiencing a bit of cold weather right about now. Though November’s weather can be downright schizophrenic in its oscillation between balmy days and freezing rain, December tends to settle down a bit so winter can establish itself more firmly. In addition to leaving us chilled every time we leave the house, these frigid days bestow upon us the added bonus of cold drafts through our homes—particularly in older buildings where there are cracks and gaps around windows and door frames.

In order to fend off freezing temperatures in our living spaces, it’s a good idea to add some insulation to the areas that let in the greatest amount of cold air: windows, and doors. Though most modern homes have double-paned glass, and doors that have been well-fitted to the frames, older dwellings may have slanted walls and ceilings which contribute to ill-fitting windows and such. If you suspect that there are leaks and cracks around yours, wait for a windy day and then move a lit stick of incense all around the frames: the incense smoke will flutter when it encounters a draft. Marking off the most leaky areas with a pencil will help you to seal them more effectively, and to do so, you have a few options available to you.

WINDOWS

Since you’re unlikely to be cracking windows open for a bit of fresh, freezing air in the middle of winter, the best option is to seal them up until spring.

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Rubber Sealing Tape

This tape is inexpensive, and simple to use: you just measure your window frame, cut pieces to the right length, and peel off the backing to stick them to your windows—it’ll seal off the vast majority of leaks, and can be removed quickly and easily once the weather warms up again. This doesn’t affect the quality of light coming through your windows, but can wreak havoc on your frames: when you remove the tape, it can leave a gummy residue behind that’s difficult to remove, and it will often tear off bits of paint from any coated surface it’s come into contact with.

Plastic Insulation Film

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My favourite way to seal windows is with the sort of insulating shrink-wrap that you can get at your local hardware store. It comes in sheets that you apply to the outside edges of the frame with double-sided tape, and then you use a hairdryer to shrink it, thus creating an airtight seal. The tape it uses rarely causes any damage to the frame, and though the window itself can look a bit cloudy over time, it’s not terribly noticeable, and doesn’t dim any sunlight.

By sealing up your windows for the winter, you’ll not only stop drafts from seeping into your home, you’ll also save on heating costs: you won’t have to crank up your heater to combat the cold, so your electricity or gas bills will be lessened as well.

DOORS

Insulating doors is a little bit trickier than windows, seeing as how we tend to use them on a daily basis for entering and exiting our homes. Since most of us aren’t keen on barricading ourselves into our houses for the entire winter, door-sealing options have to be as effective as possible without restricting movement through them.

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Closed-Cell Foam Tape

This tape is similar to the sealing tape used for windows, only it’s a bit more hardcore: those closed cells are little pockets of air, so they insulate rather effectively. This stuff is ideal for exterior doors through which outdoor air is more likely to seep in.

Door Snakes

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For interiors, consider a door snake: these are long tubes of fabric that are placed at the foot of doors to stop drafts from slipping in through the gaps beneath entryways. Since cold air sinks and is more likely to slink in at floor level, blocking off those lower door gaps can actually help to keep your rooms nice and toasty.

In addition to these sealing ideas, consider hanging heavy drapes over your windows and even over hopelessly drafty doors: though we’re unaccustomed to seeing curtains over doors nowadays, they were used quite extensively in the past to help insulate homes in wintertime. A velvet drape hung at the back of one’s bedroom door can be a lovely decorative addition, and using heavy window curtains is actually a great way to keep your home warm—keep south-facing drapes open during the day to let in as much sunshine as possible (it’s warming!), and then close them as the sun is setting to keep all the toasty-ness inside.

Featured photo credit:  old farm in the mountains at winter via Shutterstock

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Catherine Winter

Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 24, 2021

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

We’ve all done it. We’ve gone out and bought useless gadgets that we don’t really need, just because they seemed really cool at the time. Then, we are stuck with a bunch of junk, and end up tossing it or trying to sell it on Ebay.

On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome tech inventions that are actually useful. For instance, many of the latest home gadgets do some of your work for you, from adjusting the home thermostat to locking your front door. And, if used as designed, these tools should really help to make your life a lot easier—and that’s not just a claim from some infomercial trying to sell you yet another useless gadget.

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Take a look at some of the most popular “smart gadgets” on the market:

1. Smart Door Locks

A smart lock lets you lock and unlock your doors by using your smartphone, a special key fob, or biometrics. These locks are keyless, and much more difficult for intruders to break into, making your home a lot safer. You can even use a special app to let people into your home if you are not there to greet them.

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2. Smart Kitchen Tools

Wouldn’t you just love to have a pot of coffee waiting for you when you get home from work? What about a “smart pan” that tells you exactly when you need to flip that omelet? From meat thermometers to kitchen scales, you’ll find a variety of “smart” gadgets designed to make culinary geeks salivate.

3. Mini Home Speaker Play:1

If you love big sound, but hate how much space big speakers take up, and if you want a stereo system that is no bigger than your fist, check out the Play:1 mini speaker. All you have to do is plug it in, connect, and then you can stream without worrying about any interruptions or interface. You can even add onto it, and have different music playing in different rooms.

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4. Wi-Fi Security Cameras

These are the latest in home security, and they connect to the Wi-Fi in your home. You can use your mobile devices to monitor what is going on in your home at all times, no matter where you are. Options include motion sensors, two-way audio, and different recording options.

5. Nest Thermostat

This is a thermostat that lives with you. It can sense seasonal changes, temperature changes, etc., and it will adjust itself automatically. You will never have to fiddle with a thermostat dial or keypad again, because this one basically does all of the work for you. It can also help you to save as much as 12% on heating bills, and 15% on cooling bills.

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6. Smart Lighting

Control your home lighting from your remote device. This is great if you are out and want to make sure that there are some lights on. It is designed to be energy efficient, so it will pay for itself over time because you won’t have to spend so much on your monthly energy bills.

7. Google Chromecast Ultra

Whether you love movies, television shows, music, etc., you can stream it all using Google Chromecast Ultra. Stream all of the entertainment you love in up to 4K UHD and HDR, for just $69 monthly.

8. Canary

This home security system will automatically contact emergency services when they are needed. This system offers both video and audio surveillance, so there will be evidence if there are any break-ins on your property. You can also use it to check up on what’s happening at home when you are not there, including to make sure the kids are doing their homework.

Featured photo credit: Karolina via kaboompics.com

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