How To Insulate Windows 101: Kits, Insulation Film and Practical Tips

Winter is almost here and that means that the weather will get only colder. During this time, you might notice that your bedroom and kitchen are quite drafty. Placing a hand near the window on a particularly windy day will reveal that windowsills are most likely to blame. How to insulate windows and where to start?



What Is Window Insulation?

Even though you might not notice gaps letting the draft come in – or the warmth seep out – it’s clear that the window itself is a weak link against the cold. With window insulation, you can reduce the heat transfer from one side of a window to the other.

In the colder parts of the United States, poorly insulated windows are responsible for anywhere between 15 and 35 percent of heat loss in wintertime. While installing dual-pane insulating windows would definitely help you keep the heat in during winter, there are various reasons why you wouldn’t be able to do that.

However, just because you can’t set up the latest and greatest new windows doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from some energy saving tips. From the easiest DIY tricks to efficient window treatments, these easy-to-implement ideas will boost the insulation of your windows in no time.

How to Insulate Windows?

1. Weatherproofing and caulking. Check all the windows and plug any leaks you find. Use caulk inside and outside your window casing to protect from any potential draft. In the sash, use weatherstripping that you cut in long strips down. Take your window dimensions, cut the strips, peel, and stick to the frame.



2. Heavy drapes. You know how you put on a cozy sweater when you get chilly? You can do the same for your house by switching out breezy summer curtains for heavier curtains in the winter. It makes sense that you might have lush protection on the windows during the winter. Not only are these curtains stylish, but their fabric also provides extra insulation.

3. Honeycomb shades. Also known as cellular shades, this type of winter window treatment is made by creating multiple layers of air pockets with folds of fabric. It’s similar to pulling a puffy quilt on your windows. Keep in mind that even though they do let in more light, they don’t insulate as good as heavy curtains.

4. Layered window treatments. Do you windows still seem like they’re leaking heat? Dress your windows really warmly by bundling them up in insulating shades – but also hang curtains on top. Combining two kinds of window insulation will significantly decrease the draft. You can also purchase insulated curtains with built-in thermal backing.



5. Insulating window film. If you’re looking for more of a permanent solution, go with window film insulation. It sticks directly to your windows and it provides an extra layer of protection from the cold. It’s worth mentioning that your windows won’t be perfectly clear once you apply window film; you may not want to use it everywhere if the foggy look bothers you.

Buying window film kits is usually the best way to go. They include plastic film that you apply to the indoor window frame with double-stick tape. Use a hair dryer to heat, shrink, and remove any wrinkles on the film.

6. Storm windows. While these are somewhat costlier than other items on this list, storm windows might be the most efficient. A storm window is basically an extra window fixed on the outside of a normal window, offering protection and insulation in winter or bad weather. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, a storm window installed on an older weatherstripped window provides the same energy savings as a new dual-pane window.

7. Draft snakes. These are fabric tubes that you place on a window sill (or under a drafty door) to prevent heat from escaping and cold air from creeping in. You can make a DIY draft snake by sewing a tube of fabric to fit the width of your window and then filling it with dried rice.

Extra Energy-saving Winterizing Tips

Here is a short list of some more tips to help you survive the winter without making heating bills making a hole in your pocket:

  • Invest in a smart thermostat. If you’re using an old-fashioned thermostat, chances are you’re paying for your house to be warm even when you’re not there. By investing in a smart thermostat, such as the Ecobee, you can turn on your heating and cooling systems only when you need them to. The Nest is a similar device that you can also check out.
  • Unplug electronics that you don’t use. Just because you aren’t using a television set, charger, or laptop, that doesn’t mean it isn’t still costing you electricity money. Get a smart power strip that will make it easy for you to turn off more appliances at once. These smart power strips automatically cut off the supply of electricity to electronic devices when they are off.
  • Turn your thermostat down a few degrees. Even if this sounds like a no-brainer, keep in mind that you can save a ton of cash if you habitually put on an extra sweater and turning down the thermostat. Slippers and blankets are not just cozy, but can also help you feel warm with a lower thermostat setting. It’s winter – dress for it!
  • Hang out in the kitchen when you bake and cook. A cost-effective way of taking the winter blues away is to cook some hot soup or a basket of home baked goodies. Turn off your heat while using the oven and hang out in the kitchen. It’s true that ovens need electricity (or gas) to operate, but if you’re going to cook some delicious cookies or cakes anyway, you might as well use the hot air to keep yourself warm, too.

It’s not that complicated to prepare your house for winter – and it can be quite cost-effective, too! Now that you know how to insulate windows and how to make sure your energy bill doesn’t go through the roof this winter, all that’s left is to get to work. Whether you’re looking to buy window insulation kits, heavy curtains, or draft snakes, every bit of effort will help.

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William E. Eubanks

I'm one of the main writers on the site; mostly dealing with environmental news and ways to live green. My goal is to educate others about this great planet, and the ways we can help to protect it.

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