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Insulating Windows

Category Weatherizing
Insulated Winter Window
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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By 8 found this helpful
February 19, 2010

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.

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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

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By 8 found this helpful
June 2, 2011

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

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By 4 found this helpful
December 6, 2010

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.

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By duckie-do from Cortez, CO

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June 21, 20170 found this helpful

Older windows can be the source of significant heat loss. If you are unable to install new windows, winterizing them can help conserve energy. This is a guide about save energy by winterizing windows.

Windows on a snowy winter day.

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June 8, 20170 found this helpful

Older windows might need to be insulated to save energy. Rather than purchase expensive insulation kits try using bubble wrap. This is a guide about insulate windows with bubble-wrap.

Roll of Bubble-Wrap

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June 22, 20170 found this helpful

Windows can allow the summer sun to heat up your home. There are several products that you can try to help insulate them, from pane coverings to drapes. This is a guide about insulating windows against summer heat.

Closed blinds on a hot summer day.

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June 20, 20170 found this helpful

Sliding glass doors can be a large heat sink for your home unless they are well insulated. This is a guide about insulating sliding glass doors inexpensively.

Sliding glass doors.

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June 18, 20170 found this helpful

Winterizing older windows can help keep your home warmer and save you money on heating costs. This is a guide about winterizing windows.

Winterizing Windows

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

December 27, 20040 found this helpful

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?

Thank you.

By Christine

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 11, 20040 found this helpful

Use the plastic window kits that they sell in Walmart, K-Mart etc. You cut to fit andthey give you double sided tape to apply. Afterwards, you use a hairdryer to "shrink" the plastic to make an air tight seal. I've used them for a couple of years now on one of my windows that is good but leaks air and it works beautifully.

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November 11, 20040 found this helpful

You can buy clear plastic by the yard in the Walmart Fabric department.It is as clear as a glass window. They have several different thicknesses at different prices. I believe the cheapest is less than a dollar a yard and the heaviest and most expensive around $2 a yard. I think it is 36 inches wide. We have made storm windows for the inside of our windows, by making wooden frames that fit snugly into the window opening and rest on the inside of the sill creating an airspace between it and the window. If you don't have the means to make the frames, just staple or tape the plastic over the windows. You can do this either on the inside of the house or on the outside. It really does a good job of insulating.

Harlean from Arkansas

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 11, 20040 found this helpful

Buy plastic sheeting and double sided carpet tape. Line the tape around the interior trim of the window, place the plastic sheet over the tape, and use a sharp razor knife to trim the excess off.

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 11, 20040 found this helpful

I love the idea of making removable storm windows using wood frames and will have to try that, but also thought I might expand on the previous e-mail.......

I grew up in Chicago, and while the character of the old brownstone buildings was fun, the gaps between the old window frames and the single pane glass was not.

Many people do this in Chi town where it gets mighty chilly when those cold winter winds start blowing. Not to mention the high cost of heating/cooling your home or apartment, 'cause Chicago was also a wee bit humid around July & August.

Anyway, here is my input on the matter at hand......

Any plastic material will work, although using a clear thinner plastic is virtually invisible after it is put up if installed as follows. Remember, plastic does not "breathe" and so even thin sheeting will keep the outside air from getting in. Therefore it really doesn't have to be very thick/heavy to do the job. Think of the flimsy plastic bags placed over dry cleaned clothes, and the suffocation warnings printed on them.

Anyway, you can purchase clear plastic sheeting in varying sizes at the store mentioned in previous ad, most home repair and hardware stores, as well as some fabric stores. If cost is not a factor, most of these stores also sell window kits that come with everything needed to accomplish this, although you are then limited to their supply, sizes and shapes.

(If minimal funds are available, you can cut open and mount a plastic garbage bag. And remember, that they come in different sizes and colors too! The appearance may not be as becoming, but it will definitely save on those energy bills. The black ones seem to cut down on uv rays as well, and may be used in some places where the view is not a factor (garage etc.) but the summer heat is.)

The key to putting it up so that it is not noticable is in using a double sided tape to mount it, although staples, nails, or anything else that will hold it in place should keep the air out, and is preferable if mounting plastic on the outside of window. I like the double sided tape method because it is hardly noticeable, ensures a tight seal and is just easy to work with. Make sure the tape will stick to the area around the window, as dirt or dust will prevent good adhesion. Rubbing alcohol may also aid in adhesion.

I have shopped around to find the least expensive dbl sided tape and have found a double sided carpet tape at WM that is fairly economical, and because it's wider than needed, can be cut in multiple (1/4-1/2") strips. However, you can also buy it in a regular tape dispenser wherever they sell gift wrap, but the cost can be steep.

To mount the plastic, first place tape across the width of the window, either above or at top of jamb, but do not remove the tape backing. Repeat this step around sides and bottom of window. Once completed, remove about 2 inches of the backing from each of the four corners.

Using a piece of plastic as big as the window + size of tape, center the plastic on the exposed tape in the four corners. Once sufficiantly centered, remove backing on each side to create an airtight seal.

The last step, which will make the plastic look like glass and get rid of any sagging/centering issues, is optional, but kinda fun.

Using a blow dryer on low setting, go over the plastic, starting from the top across and moving down towards bottom. The results are instant and you can play with it to get out imperfections. Use caution here because the heat produced can degrade/melt plastic if you let dryer get to close or hot. The risk of this will also depend upon the thickness of the plastic that was used.

Well that was a long answer, but I hope it will help someone stay cool, warm or save some cash, all of which are near and dear to my heart!

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December 27, 20040 found this helpful

My husband and I put up that plastic sheeting on our windows this year to help keep in the heat. There were 2 sizes of plastic, small and large. The small was too small for our windows but the large was way more expensive. For each window, we used two sheets of the small, and just heat shrank them together. The package says this doesn't work, but it has worked just great for us!

By Jennifer

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January 3, 20050 found this helpful

I grew up in the 1950's ,before any of those fancy Dan things to cover your windows

I remember my Grandma stuffing newspaper in the cracks where the window was warped and then tape them tack cardboard to the sill.

We always had heavy drapes which she closed at night and open on sunny winter days.

we were heated by an old cast iron Cook Stove that burnt wood and sometime Coal when we could afford it.

That old house stood some 70 years and no one I can remember died of the cold.

I think those drafts might even have kept us healthy lol

Today's homes are just chucked full of all kinds of chemicals and poisons which the building materials are made .

My home today?

Oh we have a few windows with plastic ,and others just paper board from cereal boxes to slow up the drafts. Still don't get many colds .

Yep heavy drapes closed at night open to catch the winter's sun.

Sorry to say an Oil furnace ,but we run it for around 68degrees, so we get by using about 200 gallons a winter, Not bad .

Right now In Central Pa. we are having temperatures to the 50's Unusual for us for January.

I look out My non plastic covered windows and feel the winter sun coming through.

I guesS I didn't help much ,but those that may be too poor to even buy plastic and duct tape .I gave you something you could do.

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March 19, 20050 found this helpful

Put plastic over your windows in the cold months. You would be surprised how much cold air gets through your seals in an older home. - Mandy

Mandy sent in this tip a few years ago, it is especially true this year with energy costs likely to go through the roof. If you have single pane windows and can't afford to replace them before winter, plastic is an inexpensive but effective solution.

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 4, 20050 found this helpful

Question, If I use the double sided tape what happens in the spring when I take the plastic down. Will it remove the paint on the window frame?

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 13, 20050 found this helpful

Can I use the plastic window kits on the outside of my windows? I live in a 1932 Sears house and I really need to weatherproof these old windows. I don't want to use the plastic inside because then I won't be able to raise and lower my blinds. If these kits can be used on the outside of my windows.....consider me SOLD. Thanks for any help.

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 30, 20050 found this helpful

I have a gazebo that I would like to close up in the winter. There are no existing windows. I am thinking of installing some kind of removable window that is attached on the interior top and latches in place. My mother's house had old storm windows like this except they were put on the outside. Do you know if this type storm window is still available? Any other suggestions?

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 25, 20060 found this helpful

We have cedar windows and I see some dampness in the corners. Everything seems solid, no rot, but how do I know if window can be fixed or has to be replaced. Windows are 28 years old.

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 23, 20060 found this helpful

If you buy the kits be prepared to go find other double sided tape. It never sticks well on our windows and always blows out gaps by the end of winter. I'm going to try carpet tape this time.

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 26, 20060 found this helpful

i just use clear or light beige packaging tape around all the edges of my windows. works great and it cheap. it will be easy to remove in the summer and put it back on in the winter.

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By guest (Guest Post)
October 5, 20080 found this helpful

Can you do both the inside and outside of the windows or is that a bad idea?

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By guest (Guest Post)
December 12, 20080 found this helpful

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.

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By 0 found this helpful
March 27, 2008

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

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By guest (Guest Post)
March 27, 20080 found this helpful

For looks white would probably look best but a darker color like black would attract and hold in more of the suns heat.

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March 29, 20080 found this helpful

Yes, I cover my old windows with layers in the winter - plastic over the windows inside, then heavy hand-crocheted curtains, then long drapes. Next year I may make simple quilted drapes to keep the drafts out. It all helps, and I think white flannel will be a good insulator for your windows.

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March 29, 20080 found this helpful

Over time, I've picked up remnants of Polar fleece and made curtains for my windows and even put a piece of navy blue inside my back door. It is amazing how much cold air doesn't come in now. Also try Goodwill or like for blankets. I've hung my fleece curtains from extension rods after making a sleeve at the top for the rod. Easy to slip curtain off to wash and replace.

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April 5, 20080 found this helpful

If I can find a good deal on the fleece that would work also...shirley...

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 6, 20081 found this helpful

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

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By 0 found this helpful
June 28, 2015

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.

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November 20, 20140 found this helpful

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.

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By 4 found this helpful
February 26, 2010

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.

By Bob from Craigsville, WV

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By 0 found this helpful
October 30, 2014

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.

By Tom

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In This Guide
Insulating Your Home, Insulation Ready to Be Installed
Insulating Your Home
Categories
Home and Garden Home Improvement WeatherizingApril 30, 2013
Guides
Sliding glass doors.
Insulating Sliding Glass Doors Inexpensively
Winterizing Windows
Winterizing Windows
Roll of Bubble-Wrap
Insulating Windows With Bubble-Wrap
Windows on a snowy winter day.
Save Energy by Winterizing Windows
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