Worn-out windows in your home can cost you a lot of money until you replace them. When a window is drafty, interior air can flow out while exterior air flows in—and this can elevate your heating and cooling bills throughout the year. Sometimes, a window may be drafty with little to no visual clues. In such a scenario, you can identify the issue by lighting a candle and using it to check the flow of air. Doing so will save you the expense of hiring a contractor to assess the window for you, although you'll likely want to hire a contractor if a replacement window is needed. Here are some tips for using the candle method.

Avoid False Readings

Once you light the candle and approach the window, you'll be on the lookout for the flame flickering. This visual clue indicates the presence of a breeze, which means that your window is drafty. Before you get checking, however, you want to be sure that you don't get a false reading. You might not think to turn off the ceiling fan in the room, but doing so is necessary so that it doesn't interfere. Similarly, be careful how you breathe—it can be easy for your exhaled breath to cause the flame to dance and make you think there's an issue with the window.

Take Your Time

A worn-out window might have a draft in just a small area, but it can be enough to allow your energy costs to climb. When you're using the candle method, it's imperative for you to be meticulous. Start in one corner of the window frame, holding the candle close, and slowly move the candle along the entire perimeter of the frame. Be cognizant of going slowly; if you move too quickly, the flame will move and the movement won't be the result of a draft.

Consider Your Next Steps

If you've identified an area where there's a draft, note how many of these areas are present. If there's just a single issue on a large window, you might think about hiring a window contractor to look at the problem. In some cases, you won't have to replace the entire window—instead, some insulation or new trim around the affected area can minimize the draft and be a short-term solution. If you've identified several spots where there's some draft, it's time to replace the window. Contact a company like Kemp's Windows Inc for advice on window replacements.