Welcome to the second article in the Home Audit series. How did your garbage audit go? Did you learn something about your habits that you can change? I have learned that I need to have a way to get compostable materials from my office (second floor) to my compost pail (main floor). So far, I’m collecting apple cores and tissues on my desk and then taking them down to the kitchen.
This month, we’ll look for drafts. When it’s cold outside our houses can feel cold inside, even if the thermostat says 20oC like it did in around Christmas time. That is partly because of the cool breezes blowing through small (or not so small) cracks around our windows, doors, and outlets.
This audit will work best on a very cold and/or windy day. Those days are draftier indoors.
You will need a draft detector, which you can make by taping a one-ply piece of toilet paper to a pencil. You can also buy a “draft detector” at some hardware stores. These leave the house a bit smoky smelling, but the drafts show up pretty clearly.
Hold the draft detector in several locations around the edges of doors and windows to see where drafts are entering your home. The tissue or smoke will wave when touched by a draft. Check at the various joints in window and door frames. Also, look at plugins and light switches. Be careful not to be misled by drafts from nearby heating vents. You may want to turn down your thermostat and turn off your Heat Recovery Ventilator during the audit to reduce moving air from your heating vents. Record the location of drafts so that you can fix them.
You could draw a sketch or make a note to show yourself where the drafts are, whatever works best for you. Once you’ve found the drafts, it’s time to fix them.
Weather stripping seals around openings, like doors and windows. Take a picture or a broken piece of the weather stripping that is there and go to a hardware store to find something similar to replace it with.
Caulking seals non-moving parts around windows and door frames. Again, your hardware store will have a selection of caulking. You can choose clear, colored, or paintable.
If you have a very drafty window, you can get window film that will tape to the window frame and stretches across the whole window. We used this in our house the first couple winters we were here, and it kept us from freezing until we could replace the windows with more efficient ones.
For plugins and light switches, you can get weather stripping that fits under the cover plate.
Hopefully you can use this draft audit to find your problem areas, then seal them up. Here’s to a warmer, cozier winter.
If you learn something you want to share, or if you have questions, you can always contact me. I’d love to hear about your successes and challenges.