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Weather-strip or Not?

Weather-stripping doors and electrical outlets will keep warm air in your home and cold air out of your home. 

Weather-stripping is a job you can easily perform around your home with the right tools and some instruction. The new materials used in weather-stripping are inexpensive and easy to install, unlike the old metal weather-stripping that required the hiring of a skilled carpenter. Weather-stripping eliminates drafts immediately, so you will notice the comfort level of your house increase right away. Also, you will receive a payback in "energy dollars saved" within the first season, which is certainly not true for all energy saving projects.

Weather-stripping comes in all shapes and styles. Its purpose is to keep air where it's supposed to be: warm air inside your home and cold air outside. Doorjambs and electrical outlets can be significant sources of drafts in your home and are a good place to begin your weather-stripping. 

On doors, install one kind of weather-stripping on the top and the sides of the jamb, and a more durable kind on the bottom. An easy and effective type of weather-stripping for the top and sides of a door, use self-adhering, V-shaped vinyl strips. The first step is to clean and dry the surface of the doorjamb before you apply the adhesive strips. If debris remains on the doorframe, the adhesive will not stick. Cut the vinyl strips to the appropriate length of each side and the top of the door. You can do this with regular tool room scissors. Then peel off the backing as you press it into place around the doorframe. Press the strips in place with a small block of wood or similar hard object.

A door sweep will stop drafts along the bottom of a door. Use a hacksaw to cut an aluminum sweep to equal to the door width. Then, with the door closed, place the sweep so that it just rests against the doorsill. Mark and drill holes for the mounting screws, then screw the sweep in place. If the sweep rubs the ground, your door may not be level, or a door mat may be interfering with the movement of the sweep. If this is the case, purchase a sweep that has a spring mechanism. This mechanism automatically lowers the sweep once the door is about to close and raises it as the door is opened.

Cavities between wall studs are excellent channels to move warm air from your home to your cold attic. You can prevent this by sealing off the source of warm air-often an electric outlet or light switch. Simply remove the switchplate and install precut foam insulation pads and reinstall the switchplate.

Sources include: Roy Barnhart, home improvement expert, www.housenet.com; www.doityourself.com