Extreme shifts in seasonal temperatures often means corresponding fluctuations in your energy bills. Keeping your house cool during the warm summer months and warm during the cold winter months is usually going to mean a spike in your energy costs, regardless, but that spike could be much higher than it needs to be if your windows are not operating effectively. Below are some of the ways you can test whether or not your windows are drafty.
Start with a visual inspection. Look for areas around your windows where the caulking appears deformed, loose or like it has begun to chip away. If your home is older and has single-pane windows, keep your eye out for damaged glazing which is the hard putty that holds the panes in place.
Perform a smoke test. Many problem areas are visible to the naked eye, but many are much more subtle. Conducting a smoke test is one of the ways to discover these harder to detect air leaks. Close all of the doors and windows in your home and turn off all of your combustion appliances (i.e. Furnaces, heaters etc.). Turn on the kitchen and bathroom exhaust vents to create a negative pressure in your home which will suck in outside air. You can then begin to check for leaks by holding a lit incense candle next to the spaces around your windows, looking for any changes in the smoke rising from the lit incense. If there are air leaks, the smoke will waver and be drawn inwards by the negative pressure that is sucking outside air into your home.
Infrared detection. An infrared thermometer can test the ambient temperatures around windows and door frames. The thermometer will be able to quickly pinpoint the areas of your home where cold air is being let in.
Call a professional. You can hire a professional energy auditor to perform, essentially, a negative pressure test on your home – what is known as a “blower-door” test. The auditor will attach a specialized fan to your home’s door frame, which pulls air out of your home, resulting in lower interior air pressure, and can then measure the amount of air seeping into your home through inefficient windows and doors.
Having ineffective windows can end up costing you a lot of money if you are constantly compensating by dialing up your home’s energy use. Old, single pane windows that are not energy efficient should immediately be suspect if you are worried about the source of drafts in your home, as well as any windows that appear to have been improperly installed or which have caulking that is falling apart or not flush with the window and your house. If you are worried about rising energy costs to heat and cool your home, use the above methods to determine if your windows might be the prime culprit.
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