5 Ways to Fix Drafty Windows

Written by L.A. Sutherland
Updated February 20, 2015
broken window with open draft
© Shannon Savory/Getty Images

These tips will help stop air loss, cut heating and cooling bills, and give you a cozier home.

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Air leaking from a drafty window not only makes the room feel uncomfortable, but it's also a drain on your heating bill.

Before you can fix a drafty window, you first need to find out where the leak is coming from. On a cold or windy day, hold a tissue near the window frame and if it flutters, there's a leak.

Short of replacing your windows with more energy-efficient ones, try these quick fixes to stop air leaks.

1. Inspect and Repair Your Windows

Assess the condition of your windows. Do they have any defects like loose joints, warping, or cracked glass? Is the weatherstripping damaged or worn? Is there rot or faulty hardware? Does it close properly? Any of these things can contribute to a drafty window.

2. Apply Window Caulking

There are three places where you can apply caulk: around the window trim, at mitered joints of the trim, and between the trim and frame. Non-toxic indoor latex caulk is your best bet.

Make sure you clean the window area first and that it's free from dust and old paint or caulk. You might have to remove the window trim to fill in the gaps between the wall and frame with fiberglass insulation. Once you've done this and replaced the trim, caulk any gaps between the window and wall.

3. Install Weatherstripping

Use weatherstripping to block drafts by creating a tight seal. It's often made of foam and attaches directly to the closing edge of a window or door. Weatherstripping is inexpensive and can be found at most hardware stores, so it's something most homeowners can DIY.

4. Invest In Shades, Curtains, and Snakes

Covering a drafty window with cellular shades, layered curtains, or draft snakes can help homeowners block the drafts.

Cellular shades let in light and have an insulating value, while layered curtains help keep drafts out and keep warm air in. You can buy a draft snake or make one by sewing a tube of fabric and filling it with rice, then using it along window sills.

5. Consider Storm Windows

Add interior storm windows during the winter months. Storm windows act as an extra layer of insulation and attach directly to the window frame to reduce air leaks.

If you can't seem to stop your window drafts, consider finding a home energy auditor. A professional energy auditor will come to your house and use special tools, such as an infrared camera or blower door test, to determine all points of air infiltration and make recommendations to correct problems, such as adding insulation or replacing drafty windows.

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