With the heart of winter upon us, it seems like we are all looking for a way to save on our heating bills. Many people overlook the easiest and most affordable ways to keep their homes warmer – insulating their windows!
We insulated our windows this weekend. I have to admit, I was not looking forward to the process. I had the idea in my mind that it was going to be a difficult task, and that it would take all day! I was happily proven wrong! We finished the project in a few hours, and it ended up being a fun way to spend the afternoon as a couple!
Insulating the windows with plastic shrink wrap increases the R-value of the window as much as adding another pane of glass. When you have thirty-year-old windows like I do, this makes a big difference! When done properly, this barrier decreases drafts that come through the window, and keeps the frost from building up inside. We had both drafts and frost, so we knew it was time to do something.
Here’s how you do it. First, you need to buy the supplies. You will need:
- Insulating plastic
- Double stick tape (the kind made for this job)
- Hair dryer
- Extension chord
- Rubbing alcohol
- Paper towel
We bought our plastic and tape in a little kit for each window. They were cheap, only around $3, and extremely convenient. You can purchase the items separately as well.
Preparing the Window
The first step to applying the insulation is to prepare the window. Make sure that the storm window is closed, and that the window is locked securely. Then, clean the edges of the window with alcohol on the paper towel. If you have curtains up, you may want to remove them to give you more room to work. Next, heat the windowpane, if it feels cold to the touch. Simply run the blow dryer along the windowpane for a few minutes.
Applying the Tape
Once the window is ready, apply the tape. Leave the backing on the tape, and apply the exposed edge to the wood. There are several ways to do this. You can apply the tape around the wood on the very edge of the window. This requires you to do an expert job of applying the plastic, because otherwise you will have unsightly bubbles and creases. Another option is to apply it to the edge of the window trim, next to the wall. This creates a more invisible look. The choice is up to you, and will really depend on the way your window is designed.
Applying the Plastic
Next, remove the backing from the tape, and apply the plastic. This is where I thought the project was going to become tedious, but I was wrong! All you have to do is apply it to the plastic in a somewhat straight manner! You will want to leave a decent edge past the tape. This will get trimmed later, and gives you room for mistakes.
Once the plastic has been applied all the way around, step back and take a look. What you have will scare you! The plastic will look warped and wrinkled! Take a deep breath, because you are not quite done!
Now comes the fun part. Take your blow dryer, and use it to shrink the plastic. Run the blow dryer on a high setting, and start at the edges of your plastic. Keep it around a half of an inch from the surface of the plastic, and go around the entire outer edge of your window. Then work your way towards the middle of the window. You will be amazed as the wrinkles disappear from your plastic! (OK, maybe you won’t be amazed, but I was! What can I say; I am easily entertained.)
Finally, trim the excess plastic from the edges. If you went around the edge of your window trim, by the window, use a knife blade to remove the excess. Of you went on the wood, use scissors. Now you are done! You will be thrilled with the difference this quick fix makes on your heating bill. And the best part is, you can barely see the plastic! Leave this on for the rest of the winter, and you will stay warm and toasty inside your home.