To make your home more comfortable, both cozy in winter and cooler in summer, seal for drafts and insulate. This is a guide about insulating windows.
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I read this tip in my favorite magazine, Mother Earth News, a few years ago, and finally got around to trying it this year. It works!
Instead of expensive window insulation kits that are hard to install and can be used only one year, try this: buy bubble wrap. Cut it to fit each window. Dampen the window and apply the bubble wrap, flat side to the window.
It's that simple. It lets the light through, looks a bit like glass block windows, and does keep the room warmer. If I touch the bubble wrap then touch the window, the wrap is definitely warmer. My bedroom is about 4 degrees warmer this year!
If the wrap comes off or you lift it up for any reason, just re-dampen the window, and it's good as new. At the end of the cold weather, I will remove the wrap, and roll it up separately for each window with a note in the middle to tell me which window it goes on, then I'll store it until next year. I bought my bubble-wrap at Walmart, about $4.50 for 100 feet. A roll and a half did all of my windows (except the one by the computer, since I watch the birds at my feeder through that one). The kits in the store cost a LOT more, and next year, this is free!
Source: Mother Earth News
By schyresti from North Royalton, OH
I live in a apartment that doesn't have shutters on the windows. So, in the summertime it gets really warm in the apartment. I decided to buy the biggest foam board out there and cut it down to almost the size of my glass part on my windows. Some dollar stores have it, along with craft/hobby stores. Be sure to leave a little extra foam board so you don't have use tape or nails to keep it up.
When I was done, I put them up inside in my house and it provided privacy and shading. It also felt a million times cooler in my apartment.
By Mary from Appleton, WI
We live in an older rental home and almost all the windows are singled paned so before the Arctic weather arrived I went to Home Depot and bought 4 x 8 panels of insulation at $8.95 a sheet. It is it's in the building/contractor section, and is silver on one side and 1/2 an inch white foam on the other.
None of the windows match. Some are little frames 10 inches by 7.5 inches, others are a little larger and a few that are large.
I trimmed and cut pieces to be placed directly on the glass. Silver side touching the glass, white side facing inside the room. From the outside of the house it looks like all the windows are covered with aluminum foil.
I figured out a way to be able to attach and remove the larger pieces of insulation with Velcro strips to hold it in place. Part of the Velcro on the window frame and part on the insulation, so I would have light. Every day at 4 PM I put the insulation back in the windows. We kept the house at 74 and during the night it would drop down to 63-64 in the den.
Well, I just got our electric bill and it was for $182 which is actually $2 cheaper than the electric bill for the same month back in 2009. One of my neighbor's bill was for $354 and another $313 so I guess there was a method to my madness.
I'll probably keep this way and see what my electric bill will be in the summer with air-conditioning.
It would be difficult to remove the insulation that I trimmed to fit the smaller frames but if I ever do, at least they'll be cut for next winter. I'll even write on the back which frame that I removed it from, which window and finally which room.
My father could fix just about anything broken and I'm sure he would of approved of my method of madness. I guess my neighbors must of thought that I was nuts when they saw me working on my windows but it worked.
Source: Myself and a little guidance from my husband.
By CaroleeRose from Madison, AL
Make insulated window shades from quilted bedspreads to insulate your rooms and stay warmer in the winter. First, measure the windows. You want the shades to have the same measurements as the windows in height and width. Cut the bedspread to the right size. Add 1 inch on both vertical sides for hems, and add about 4-5 inches to the length for the tension rod casing and the bottom hem. The easy thing is that since it's so bulky and quilted you can fold under the edge only once and it won't unravel. Do this on all four sides, making sure your top casing is open so the tension rod will fit. Hang your new shades and stay warm! You can tie each side of the shades up with a cord or heavy ribbon if you'd like more light.
By duckie-do from Cortez, CO
Windows can account for as much as 35 to 40 percent of a home's heat loss. With heating costs on the rise, that can translate into significant dollars. New windows are not in everyone's budget, so if you are looking to increase the energy efficiency of existing windows, here are some simple tips for sizable energy savings.
The first step in improving the energy performance of your windows is to locate the air leaks. For the best results, perform this on a cold and windy day. Turn on all exhaust fans, the furnace and the clothes dryer. This will increase the difference in pressure, drawing air out of the house so that outside air is drawn in to replace it through leaky points. To locate air leaks, hold a smoking stick of incense or a thin piece of thread near windows. Drafts will be apparent as the tread or smoke move with the air currents. Assess if there is any weatherstripping or whether it is worn out and needs to be replaced. Mark the area with chalk. Now that you know where the leaks are, you can fix the problem.
As a rule, weatherstripping should be installed at points where surfaces move or slide together. The type of window will determine the type of weatherstripping to use.
Double Hung or Vertically Sliding Windows: These types of windows can be weather-stripped with tubular strip materials. Install weatherstripping in the gaps between the window sash and frame. This also includes the area in the middle on where the two sashes meet.
Horizontal Sliders (and sliding glass doors): The type of weatherstripping to use on these windows depends on the material the sash is made from. If not previously weatherstripped, wood or vinyl-covered windows can be fitted with angled strip materials. If factory installed stripping is worn out or defective, replace it with the same type of stripping it came with.
Awning, hopper or casement windows that swing open: Weatherstrip these windows like you would a door. Attach stripping to the jamb (on all sides, including hinged side) so the window closes against it.
Caulking is another method of improving performance that gives a high return on energy savings for a minimal amount of investment. It should be used on the non-moving parts of windows. The best place to caulk is on the inside. Although exterior caulking is important for weatherproofing, it has little effect on overall energy savings. Apply caulk where the frame of the window meets the wall and between the frame and sash (on permanent non-sliding sections).
It's nobody's favorite, but plastic film can be a good short-term solution to poor performing windows-especially traditional storm windows. Installed on the outside, it helps reduce air infiltration. The negative side of this is that it may frost over, reducing visibility and creating moisture problems. If placed on the inside, it can help stop heat through leaky windows. The other side of this is that the glue can damage stain or paint once removed.
Whatever steps you take to increase your window's energy performance by stopping air leaks, it's important to make sure that your furnace, water heater, and other fuel-burning appliances have sufficient combustion air. It they do not, backdrafting of carbon monoxide and other gases into the home can occur. For more information on Combustion Air, how to test for problems and how to install a combustion air supply, consult with your local utility company or energy expert.
By Ellen Brown
Adding a thin film of plastic to the outside of your windows can have a surprisingly significant effect on your heating bill during the winter. This Duck brand window insulation helps keep the cold out by covering up to 10 windows. Twice that of similar products, for about the same price. Use a hair dryer after the insulation is installed to shrink the plastic to fit. Heating the plastic also makes it clearer so you can still see those lovely snowy days.
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Here are questions related to Insulating Windows.
One wall of my bedroom has sliding glass doors and it gets really cold at nite. I cannot afford to replace them. What can I use to sort of insulate the doors so as not to freeze at nite?
By dakota  09/28/2011
In addition, make sure the door is well caulked also. Check the outside perimeter of the door, no caulk, drafts will be there. There is also a product called 'warm window' for a roman shade that you add a fashion fabric to the room side. not real cheap, but really works. In a house in the Utah mountains, the first one I added was to the bedroom window and it raised the temp in the room by 10 degrees!
We just bought a house and the windows are all needing to be replaced. Does anyone know of a way to help save energy on these low grade windows until we can afford to replace them?
By kim (Guest Post) 12/12/2008
My Aunt has a very old house which we have been to more than once to replace the plastic on windows. We discovered that the thinner, 2 mil. sheeting works way better than the thicker sheeting, as the thicker seems to become brittle in cold weather. We also used ferring strips or thin pieces of wood nailed around the edges on the outside to help secure it.
The temperatures in FL are starting to go up and pretty soon we'll be back in the heat and humidity. Does anyone have any good, inexpensive suggestions for something to put on the inside of my home's windows to help keep out the awful heat?
Can someone give me a very easy way of winterizing my windows? I just have to save some money this winter! Someone told me you can do it with thick painter drop cloths. Anyone have some really good ideas?
Kip from Llano, TX
By Hatty 10/22/2013
I used large bubble wrap tacked inside a white quilt cover with bamboo canes sewn into the edges. It's held in place with cup hooks in the window frame. Light comes through, it looks like white curtains from outside - and best of all it cost me nothing as I had the materials to hand!
Has anyone ever made flannel drape liners? I want to make mine out of white flannel. It sells for 1.99 a yard here. How well does it insulate from the cold? I put plastic on the windows every year, but they are still cold. I thought if I made a flannel liner with the insulated drapes this would help with the cold one feels from the windows.
Shirley from Calumet City, IL
By shirley c (Guest Post) 04/06/2008
Yes. Maybe polar fleece encased in white flannel for extra warmth. I find fleece throws and such very cheap but not colors or prints that I would want on the windows. I have found nice ones (twin size) for 2.00 in the seasonal sale. Thank you, Shirley
The price of triple pane glazing is almost twice the price of double pane glazing insulated windows. Does anyone have experience putting two double pane ICG's back to back? I am not sure if you would get condensation between them, but certainly the quadruple glazing would be more effective than the triple, for the same price. I would like to hear some comments from someone who has tried this.
By Louise B.  07/06/2015
I believe that this is what my son plans to do in his energy efficient home, but I do not know if he had some info about this. I have read the article the previous poster, Sandi, gave you, but it did not seem to cover this idea. Perhaps you could google for more info regarding this way of installing windows.
My experience using shrinkable plastic on my windows is that the tape strips the wood finish. Not a problem if you have metal, but my new house has wood. Is there something I can do or a product that won't leave a stripe on my windows?
By Ed B.
By Louise B.  11/23/2014
I haven't used this for years, however, it was my experience that if one removed the plastic promptly in the spring, it didn't take the paint off nor leave much of a residue. If one left it for years, you'd have a problem. If this is a new house, will you need the plastic on the windows? Most new houses have good quality windows and seals do not need extra covering.
We live in a modular home and are having problems with wind forcing cold air into the house around the window frames. Caulking would seem to be one answer. How about using an insulating foam bead? Any other ideas? I am lazy and cheap.
I live in a old rental home. There are 2 windows in the living room where I always have the blinds shut. I was wondering if regular house insulation would be a viable solution. Any handymen see anything wrong with that? I very rarely use the living room as I use one of the bedrooms as my entertainment room.