How to properly insulate your windows for winter
When preparing for the cold winter months, you have a few choices at your disposal. You could crank up your heat on frigid days, driving up your energy costs proportionately. You could wear sweaters and layer your clothing, which may help you save body heat but isn’t exactly a comfortable way to live. Or you could decide to insulate your windows for winter as an essential strategy for staying warm and saving money.
This article will explain how insulating your windows could save you money and how to properly insulate your windows for the winter.
How insulating your windows saves you money
Energy Saver, the U.S. Department of Energy’s consumer resource on conserving energy, points out: “Heat gain and heat loss through windows are responsible for 25% to 30% of residential heating and cooling energy use.”
So, without energy-efficient window insulation, it’s harder to keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. If your windows are badly damaged and drafty, you may have to replace them. If they are in better condition, however, you might be able to forgo new windows and insulate the old ones as a home improvement measure that ensures your heating system doesn’t work too hard, saving you money on your heating bills.
Start by checking if your windows have any air leaks or damage that needs to be prepared or covered. Clean the window with a damp cloth and let it dry completely. For most insulation methods, you’ll need to measure your windowsill, trim and frames.
What you’ll need to insulate your windows
When insulating your windows, you have a number of different methods and materials at your disposal to stop cold drafts from entering the home through leaks around the windows and to prevent heat from escaping through the glass of older windows. Different window treatments to improve insulation and provide energy savings include:
- Caulking to seal cracks
- Covering windows with bubble wrap
- Replacing weatherstripping
- Applying window insulation film
- Buying draft stoppers
- Hanging thermal curtains
How to insulate your windows for winter
If you have even modest DIY capabilities, with a few simple tools and easily purchased materials, you can retain the heat in your house when it’s cold out, save money, and keep you and your family more comfortable. And these fixes — mending cracks and insulating window panes — are also a lot cheaper than buying new energy-efficient windows.
Seal cracks with caulk
Caulk is a common material used to seal cracks around the window. Fill a caulking gun with silicone caulk, apply it between the window frame and siding, paying close attention to wherever you feel leaks, and then let it dry overnight.
While most caulking products come in cartridges made specifically for caulking guns, they are also available in squeeze tubes, aerosol cans and ropes for small jobs or special applications. For your window caulking, Energy Star predicts that you’ll probably need a half-cartridge per window or door and four cartridges for the foundation sill of an average home.
You can also caulk on the outside of window frames for extra insulation, helping to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures.
Cover windows with bubble wrap
This isn’t the most aesthetic solution, but it might be useful if you don’t expect to be in your current location for long. Simply cut the bubble wrap to fit inside a window frame, wet the glass, and then press the wrap bubble side down until it adheres. You can also tape around the edges of the wrap, but be aware that the tape might pull off paint when you remove it in the spring.
Wrap with larger bubbles is better than smaller ones because it lets in more light as it insulates. Also, make sure that the roll of bubble wrap is wide enough to cover your window. If it’s too wide, just cut it to size.
Repair or replace weatherstripping
You can use new weatherstripping or repair existing weatherstripping to seal leaks around the window. You should use a type of weatherstripping that provides a good seal when the window is closed but also allows the window to open easily.
First, select weatherstripping that can withstand the friction, temperature changes, weather exposure, and wear and tear expected at its location. Some types of weatherstripping include:
- Tension seal
- Rolled or reinforced vinyl
- Reinforced silicone
With many kinds of weatherstripping, you just cut the strips according to the dimensions of your window, peel off the adhesive strip, and then align it with the window frame to cover any leaks.
Felt and open-cell foam tend to be inexpensive forms of weatherstripping and are easy to apply, but they are more vulnerable to difficult weather conditions and might not be as good at blocking airflow as some other solutions. While a bit more expensive but still a low-cost choice, vinyl holds up well and is more moisture-resistant. Metals (including bronze, copper, stainless steel and aluminum) can last for years, help to reduce energy bills and are affordable.
Apply window insulation film
Window insulation kits, which use heat control to seal a layer of plastic film, are a good way to insulate your windows without interfering with their look and your ability to see through them (i.e., they are better than bubble wrap). You apply the film to the inside window frame using double-sided sticky tape. Then you heat the window film with a hair dryer to shrink it and remove wrinkles.
You should operate the hair dryer on its highest heat setting, holding it 3 to 5 inches away from the plastic film. Run it over the surface quickly, working from top to bottom to get out as many wrinkles as possible and seal windows. If there are still more wrinkles than you’d like, repeat the heating process on the shrink film.
Buy draft stoppers
You don’t even need to be good at DIY for this one. Also known as draft snakes, draft stoppers are cost-effective tubes you can buy to quickly cover small gaps on windowsills and frames to keep cold air from leaking in. Simply put the tube on the windowsill along the frame opening and it will do its magic. However, the tube only blocks one area on drafty windows.
Hang thermal curtains
Thermal curtains have a special lining that keeps warm air in during the winter and keeps the heat out during the summer. They can also block out light and work to reduce noise. To work effectively, though, they need to cover the whole window. Of course, they can be opened to let in the sunshine and views when you don’t need them.
They also come in a variety of styles and colors, so you can match your existing home design and beautify your space. They work well with other window insulation methods, too.
Keep your heating system running without fear of repair bills with Cinch
Insulated windows are one part of keeping a home running efficiently and keeping utility bills down. At Cinch Home Services, we offer home protection plans that cover many of your home’s major appliances and built-in systems for repair or replacement.
Thinking about winter and warmth, for example, you can get coverage for your heating system and ductwork to ensure you are warm in the cold weather. It covers many components and parts of your heating system, including:
- Forced air (gas, electric, oil)
- Wall-mounted heaters
- Floor furnaces
- Package units
- Heat pumps
- Mini splits
- Hot water or steam-circulating heat
- Electric baseboards
- Cable heat (if it is the main source of heat to the home or room)
When something breaks down in your home, Cinch is ready to step up and provide you with the help you need at a price you can afford. Request a free quote today to discover the peace of mind you can achieve with one of our home warranties.