No mistaking it: winter has arrived. Any drafts around doors and windows that went unnoticed during fall are now downright uncomfortable—and adding to your energy bills.

Weather stripping offers a relatively quick fix for drafty doors. To determine if a door leading out of your house needs new weather stripping look for daylight. If even a sliver of daylight remains visible between the door and its frame or the floor, add weather stripping.

Next, shut the door or window on a piece of paper. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you’re losing energy.

There are a variety of weather stripping materials available, each good for fitting different types of door and window frames. Most are made of rubber, foam, metal, vinyl, or a combination of materials. To determine the right item for the job, check the area: if any old, worn material has been previously installed, take a sample to your local hardware store or expert like a contractor. If no material exists as a guide, make detailed notes about the type of gap and how the door or window is installed—someone at the hardware store or your expert should be able to make a recommendation for you.

Once you have the proper materials for the job, consult any instructions that may be on the weather stripping package. Installation techniques range from simple to technical, depending on the type of material being used. If replacing old, worn weather stripping, be sure to note how it was installed as you remove it.

Here are a few basic guidelines:

  •  Weather stripping should be applied to clean, dry surfaces in temperatures above 20°F.
  •  Measure the area to be weather stripped twice before you cut anything.
  • Weather stripping should be snug against both surfaces. The material should compress when the window or door is shut.

When weather stripping doors:

  • Choose the appropriate door sweeps and thresholds.
  • Weather strip the entire door jamb.
  • Apply one continuous strip along each side.
  • Make sure the weather stripping meets tightly at the corners.
  • Use a thickness that causes the weather stripping to tightly press between the door and the door jamb, without making it difficult to shut.

When weather stripping windows:

  • Apply weather stripping between the sash and frame.
  • The weather stripping shouldn’t interfere with the operation of the window.
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