hatches or on hinged windows and doors. Tension Strips made of spring vinyl or spring metal are used in similar applications as compres- sion strips. The spring mechanism adapts to long unequal distances from the weather-strip to the door or window. Combination Types include spring-loaded, self-adjusting strips or magnetic strip systems, which are both effective for doors and hinged windows. Door Sweeps, Bottoms and Thresholds seal the gap between the door and the floor. Sweeps and bottoms are often made of vinyl or rubber and attach to the bottom of a door. Thresholds attach to the floor, require clear- ance beneath the door, and include a vinyl or rubber strip for an excellent draft seal.
THE HOUSE Your local hardware store or home center is likely stocked with a number of specialty sealer products for areas of the home that often go overlooked. When giving your house its annual physical exam, don’t forget these crucial areas.
Windows: Ideally, your home should have double pane and low-emissivity coated window glass. You can also insulate your windows using heat-shrink
plastic insulation. One option for wooden-frame windows is to cover the outside with heavy plastic to reduce cold air infiltra- tion. Staple the sheeting over the outside, leaving a 4-inch overhang at the perimeter. Secure the edges with wooden furring strips, fasten to the out- side window frame, then trim off the excess plastic.
HVAC: Have an HVAC technician do a full inspection of your furnace for proper performance. If the fur- nace is made of old-fashioned sheet metal ductwork, consider replacing it with insulated ducts, including the plenum. If you use
propane or heating oil, ensure that the tank has been filled. Use an insulated air-conditioner cover over window units to do the same.
Outlets: Consider using fitted foam gaskets around electrical outlets (behind the switch-plates) to prevent air transfer. This is a commonly overlooked gap because it’s hidden from view.
Plumbing: Insulate outdoor hose bibs and exposed plumbing, including those in unheated crawl- spaces. If you go on a winter vaca- tion, leave your heat set to at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit so pipes don’t freeze.
Use fitted foam gaskets to stop airflow behind electrical switch-plates —a commonly overlooked area of the building envelope.
SEAL LEAKY DOORWAYS
Even the most energy-efficient HVAC systems can still cost plenty if warm or cool air is wasted through leaky doors. As a house settles over time, door frames often shift, creating a gap around the perimeter. A general rule of thumb: If you can see light between the closed door and the jamb, you have a problem. If this happens to a door leading outdoors or to an unconditioned living space, it equates to leaving a window cracked. The solution here is to install a simple weather-stripping kit. One of the best types for doors has a rigid aluminum bar along with a soft rubber gasket, called a bulb. The bulb compresses against the closed door to prevent the passage of air and moisture. The kits are usually sold with three pieces—one for the top and two for the door sides (screws included). The pieces often come in standard door heights, but any of the three components can be trimmed to size. The only tools you’ll need are a drill/driver, measuring tape and a hack saw.