Last night the wind was blowing here in Massachusetts, and it was blowing hard. I’m working on a post about windows, and whether you should replace them, but right now, in January, I think most people want to know what they can do today to keep out the drafts.
My favorite quick solution is plastic film over the windows and rope caulk (usually “Mortite”) for the big gaps. Both of these items can be purchased for a few dollars at your local hardware store, so you could have them this afternoon if you want them. They also remove easily, so if you do not like them, you’ve only invested a few dollars and a little time. These two items will give you some breathing room to think about more long-term and higher cost solutions, like storm windows. These are also easy ways to get your children involved with weatherizing your house.
First, make sure that the latches are shut on your window. These latches are not actually designed to keep a burglar out, but rather to keep your window firmly shut and prevent any drafts. Do this first, because after you put on the Mortite and plastic film, you won’t be able to move the window again until you take them back off at the end of the season.
Then, figure out where the drafts are. These products are designed to help with the big drafts, the ones that are annoying you and easy to find. They are for the windows that rattle, the gaps you can see or where you feel a light breeze on a windy day.
Next, take your Mortite (pictured) and press it into the big gaps. These will likely be the places where your window moves, and after putting this on, you won’t be able to open or shut your windows anymore. Using Mortite is like using clay (or playdough), only it will never harden. At the end of the season you can just pull it off and throw it away or save it for next year. We had our children put it on and take it off when they were just 4 years-old.
Next, get out your window film. EFI has a great explanation of how to put it on, but basically you just put your double stick tape around your window, then press on the plastic film, and then use a hair dryer to shrink it tight and keep out the drafts. If after you’ve put it up it billows in the window, you have learned two things 1. you really needed it and 2. Put it up tighter next year. At 4 years-old, we let our children hold the hairdryer to shrink the film.
If you live in an apartment, these are probably your long term solutions, although you could look at weather stripping and caulking as well. However, if you are a homeowner (or landlord), while these solutions are very helpful, you should consider interior or exterior storm windows as a longer term solution. We will discuss those, repairing old windows and replacing vinyl windows in other posts.
p.s. if it is easier to order it online or your local hardware doesn’t have a good selection, check out EFI.org, our favorite online vendor for energy saving products. Browse to the Air Sealing/Insulation section where you will find the rope caulk under Windows Air Sealing and the window film under Window Storm/Panels.