Drafty windows are an annoyance for any homeowner. However, have you ever considered just how much a draft could be costing you? Windows affect your home heating by leaking out the warm air that your furnace produces. Read on to learn just how much this problem could cost you, and how to fix it.
How Much Air Actually Leaks?
Windows affect your home heating more than you would expect. Leaky windows can cause up to 25-30% of the heat loss from your home. That essentially means that you’re making your furnace 25-30% less efficient than it could be. Over the course of a year, leaky windows can add several hundred dollars to your utility bills.
This is especially true if you live in a large home with a lot of windows. That’s why investments to help improve the seals around your windows are more than worth the cost involved.
What Happens When Air Leaks Occur?
When it’s cold outside, your furnace turns on and heats the air inside your home. This results in a major temperature difference between the inside and outside air. If your windows aren’t efficient, the warm air will immediately try to move towards lower density.
This area of lower energy concentration is located outside, where the air is cooler. This means that the warm air will escape the interior of your home as it flows outside. Eventually, the air around your windows will even out, meaning the air inside and outside is close to the same temperature. This will allow cold air from the outside to flow into your home, creating further discomfort. This is the main reason why windows affect your home heating so much.
Leaks in Unused Rooms
In an effort to avoid window repairs, some people try to avoid using rooms with leaky windows. They’ll close the doors and vents to these rooms, hoping to preserve the rest of their homes. Unfortunately, this is not a good strategy.
Interior doors tend to be far less airtight than exterior doors. This means that cold air from unused rooms will constantly be rushing into the rest of your home. The result is discomfort and increased furnace use.
Plus, when you close the vents in certain rooms in your home, you will increase the pressure in the air ducts. The extra pressure in your ducts can result in a malfunction of your HVAC system.
Constant Temperature Changes
One major downside of not repairing leaky windows is that they create constant temperature swings in your home. On cold days, the temperature will drop quickly in rooms with leaky windows. Then, your furnace will run hard to get your home back to the desired temperature. These wild temperature swings can cause many other issues beyond discomfort.
For example, if you have hardwood floors or wood cabinets, frequent temperature swings can cause cracking. Plus, these constant temperature changes can negatively affect the health of pets, especially small pets like guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits. Maintaining a constant temperature is key to maintaining a comfortable and healthy home.
Types of Susceptible Windows
Some types of windows are especially susceptible to inefficiency. Single-pane windows, including stained-glass windows, are especially inefficient. That’s because single-pane windows suffer from what’s known as “thermal transfer.” This is when thermal energy is lost to the outside directly through the glass.
Double-pane windows feature a layer of gas between two panes of glass to greatly reduce thermal transfer. While double-pain windows are superior insulators, they can’t help if the issue is the sealing around your windows.
Finding Air Leaks Around Your Windows
To help reduce the workload on your furnace, you want to seal as many leaks as possible around your windows. At the same time, you won’t want to waste time or money fixing windows that aren’t leaking. To help streamline the process, here are a few tips that our professionals use to find air leaks.
First, do a visual inspection. Look for cracks in the caulking that air could slip through.
Second, you can do a smoke test. Move a stick of burning incense around the edge of your window. If at any point you notice that the smoke is moving toward the window, there is likely a crack in that location. Since the smoke is hot, it will be drawn towards cooler areas, just like the warm air inside your home.
Once you pinpoint the location of the air leaks, it’s time to do some repairs.
How to Fix Air Leaks
Caulking, although time-consuming, will provide the most benefits for stopping air leaks. First, scrape away the old caulk from your window frame. Use your finger or a wet sponge to smooth and shape the new caulk around your frame. When done correctly, caulking will seal up any leaks around your windows, and finally stop those pesky drafts.
We Take Comfort Seriously
Gallagher’s Plumbing, Heating and Air has been the premier HVAC company in the North Valley For over 30 years. If you’re experiencing problems with your heating, give us a call. Our experts will find the best solution to your home situation.