Many older homes, and even some newer ones, have numerous little cracks, holes and spaces through which, in the winter, warm air escapes and cold air enters. In the summer this works in reverse--unwanted hot air enters and welcomed cool air escapes. All these little drafts of air can make a home uncomfortable in the winter and could cause ill health. Air leaks can also damage the house's insulation, because warm, moist air leaving the house dampens the insulation and reduces its heat-resisting effectiveness. And, of course, all that cold air entering the house means you have to raise the thermostat setting to keep warm. This forces the furnace to work harder and use more fuel to keep indoor air at a comfortable temperature.
In homes that have been weatherized, air leaks account, on the average, for 30-40% of the heat lost from the house. This is why making a house leakproof through steps such as weather-stripping is the first step one should take to stop energy waste and save unnecessary fuel costs.
Weather-stripping is a narrow piece of metal, vinyl, rubber, felt or foam that seals the contact area between the fixed and movable sections of a joint. Weather-stripping prevents air infiltration around windows and doors by eliminating gaps between the frames and the moving parts when they are closed. All exterior doors, as well as doors leading to an attic or garage, should be weatherized, as should all operable windows.
Some of your weather-stripping options are as follows:
Durability. A more expensive type of weather-stripping that will last can be the most economical choice.
Ease of installation. Are special tools required?
Materials. Most weather-stripping is made of sponge, foam, felt, vinyl or metal, or a combination of materials. These materials vary in cost and durability.
Sponge or foam. Sponge or foam is inexpensive, but not very durable. It tends to deteriorate when exposed to weather and is not suitable for applications where there is friction or abrasion. Neoprene sponge or vinyl foam is more durable than sponge rubber or polyurethane foam.
Felt. Felt is also relatively inexpensive, but not very durable. Do not use felt where it is exposed to the weather or moisture. Felt tears easily and requires care in installation. It should not be used where there is friction or abrasion. All-wool felt is more durable, but is also more expensive.
Vinyl. Vinyl is used in many types of weather-stripping. It is generally a durable product and resistant to moisture. It is usually more expensive than foam or felt.
Metal. Metals, such as bronze, copper, stainless steel and aluminum, are used in weather-stripping. Metal weather-stripping tends to be low cost and durable. Aluminum is frequently used for reinforcing other weather-stripping materials.