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Weekend Winterizing Challenge: Caulking Windows vs. Replacing Them

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Welcome to the second installment in our eight-week winterizing challenge. Last week we talked about a quick fix for drafty windows—insulating them with a quick-stick plastic during the winter.

My challenge partner, Susanna, is a homeowner, however, and she thinks more long-term about how to handle less-than-ideal windows.

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First, she talks frankly about replacing them. The price tag for new windows in her first home—$10,000—made my stomach lurch. But in her current residence, she replaced just one large picture window in her living room, and for $700, it makes quite a bit of sense: She qualifies for a tax credit on 30 percent of the cost because it meets federal energy-efficiency guidelines, and, as she points out, it’s an excellent investment for her home.

But, it can be a lot more affordable to simply caulk drafty windows. First, she used a tip from Condo Blues to place a candle near her windows to see where the draft was coming in.

For this cheapster, the cost of caulk is a lot more attractive. The caulk and gun cost around $20 (though the cost goes up for higher-quality guns). Susanna also used an expanding foam sealant to curb the incoming air, which costs around $9.

Time commitment: Both of Susanna’s projects, caulking and insulating, took her around four hours—including shopping for all the necessary supplies.

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