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Draft Snakes and Permanent Solutions

Most everyone at one time has had to put a rolled-up towel at the bottom of a leaky window or drafty door. In fact, draft snakes--decorated, stuffed lengths of fabric--were used to keep out cold air as far back as the Great Depression. Some people simply stuffed old dress ties or belts and pushed them up against the windowsill.

Look online and you can find an assortment of decorative draft snakes with bright colors and button eyes. The Daily Green offers directions for making a draft snake from fabric, kitty litter, and sand.

But isn't this a temporary fix for a more troubling problem? Leaky doors and windows lose your precious heat in the winter and cool interior air in the summer. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that you can reduce as much as 30 percent of your energy use simply by closing up drafty doors and windows with weatherstripping or by swapping them out for energy efficient replacements.

Detecting Air Leaks at Home

Now, before the return of winter, you can check your home for drafts. Good Housekeeping recommends that you check your air conditioning ducts. If cool air is venting out of them with the AC turned off, you have a leaky system. Or, with your windows closed, hold a stick of incense by the sill and sash. If the smoke trails into your home, you've got some sealing to do. Check your doors the same way.

The Energy Savers website run by the Department of Energy recommends that you hire a professional to conduct a blower door test as part of a comprehensive energy audit. The blower door fan is mounted into an exterior door frame and sucks the air out of your home. Then the professional auditor can track where air seeps in through windows, cracks, and unsealed openings. Be sure to check mail chutes, vents, fans, clothes dryer vents, cable, Internet, or telephone lines where they pass through your walls.

Close your door or window on a single sheet of paper. If the paper pulls out without resistance, you've probably got a leak. Don't be surprised to find you can still profit by using weatherstripping in the summer. Insulating products include mylar, felt, vinyl, rubber, and closed cell foam.

Having an energy efficient home for now is an option. But in the future, more and more new homes will meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) guidelines.