How to Seal Your Home: Window Glass and Electrical Outlets How to Seal Your Home: Window Glass and Electrical Outlets

Add Window Film and Repair Sashes

Another place where some older homes allow a lot of heat transfer is through the window itself. There are two ways this happens, and both are easy to remedy.

The first way this happens is through convection. If it is 10 degrees outside and you have a single pane window, guess what the surface temperature of that glass is? You got it: 10 degrees. This is why your windows sometimes form ice on the inside. And every particle of air that passes over that 10 degree window pane comes away from it much colder than it was when it got there. That is why you sometimes feel a draft in the winter even though the window is shut tight.

This is a problem that can be solved with insulating window film. When installed properly - and I emphasize properly - this film can do wonders for the efficiency of a single pane window. It is mounted over the interior face of the window frame and is usually made of a material that shrinks slightly when it gets warm. It is similar to a giant piece of plastic kitchen wrap. Once this plastic sheet is put into place with a manufacturer supplied adhesive, a hair dryer is used to warm it up and shrink it just enough to pull it tight. When the film is pulled tight, you now have a barrier of several inches between the air in your house and that 10 degree pane of glass. The convection problem has been solved.

The second way that your windows contribute to your decreasing your efficiency is that the window is not tight. Do the windows rattle when the wind blows hard? Most likely the sash is not tight in the frame. As wooden windows age, the wood shrinks and swells seasonally. When the wood is cold, it shrinks, causing the sashes to fit loosely. When the sashes are loose, it creates all kinds of space for wind to pour through. Sometimes the insulating window film will work well to solve this problem, but the best solution is to use an insulating foam tape around all of the places where the window opens and closes.

Insulate Electrical Outlets

There is one other place where cold air tends to find its way into your house, and that is through electrical outlets and light switches that are located on exterior walls. This problem can be easily solved in two quick steps. First take off the cover plate and see if there is any space around the outside of the box. If there is, you can use some small pieces of the fiberglass insulation to fill that space. Second, you can purchase some thin foam pads at most hardware stores that are designed to fit over the outlet, but underneath the cover plate. These reduce the amount of airflow that is allowed to come from inside the wall. This is a very minimal investment that will make a difference in the draftiness of your room.

By paying attention to small things like these, you can go a long way in increasing the efficiency of your house. Even little steps like insulating outlets and switches can make a noticeable difference in your next utility bill.
Brian Simkins is a freelance writer living in Chicago. He enjoys using his 14 years of home improvement experience to educate and equip new home owners.

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