How to Insulate Windows Cheaply

by Frugal Brian

Most people do not tend to think of money flowing out their windows, but that is exactly what is happening when you have poorly insulated windows.  This is most apparent in the wintertime in areas where the temperatures become very cold.  The window in a home are responsible for around 30% of the heat loss a home experiences.  This means that if your normal heating bill in the wintertime is $200, you are losing about $60 of that heat out of your windows every month.  There is an easy and inexpensive way to plug that leak that nearly anyone can do in just a few minutes.

DIY Window Insulation Kits

You can find these kits at almost any hardware, DIY store, and even in some of the mega mart big box stores in every state in the Union.  In most cases, you should be able to find these kits for under $15.  Make sure you have taken measurements of the windows that you will be insulating before you purchase your kit(s).  Take the time to read the kits to make sure the kit is wide enough to cover the windows you intend to cover and insulate.  In most cases, you will be able to use a single kit to cover multiple windows in your home, depending upon the size of your windows.

Understanding Insulation

Most people do not understand insulation the basic concepts of insulation, so before we begin, a basic explanation is in order.  The best insulator possible is air.  While this might seem antithetical to most people, that is the simple truth of the matter.  Dead air space is how all insulation takes place.  Even in the insulation in your homes walls, the fiberglass matting, or the spray in fluff insulation, they are simply mediums to help provide dead air space.  The more dead air space you have the better insulation you have.  There are some more technical aspects to insulation, but this basic understanding should be enough to realize what you are trying to accomplish with your DIY window insulation kits.

Installing Your Kit(s)

The list of items you will need to install your DIY window insulation kit(s) is fairly small.  You will need a rag, some all-purpose cleaner, a pair of scissors, a hair dryer, a stepladder (for those who have windows higher than they can reach), and your DIY kit(s).

Once you have assembled all of these items, you can begin.  The first step is to use the rag and the all-purpose cleaner on all the edges of the windowsill and jam to which the plastic will adhere.  This will allow the tape to stick properly.  A dirty surface will cause the tape to lose adhesion at some point in the future.

The kit will contain some double-sided tape.  Starting at the top of your window, unroll the tape so that it is long enough to extend the width of the window plus about 2-3 inches extra on either side.  Cut the tape to the necessary length and peel off one side of the tape to expose the tacky or sticky side.  Place the tape above the window on the sill roughly 2-3 inches above the actual window.  Repeat this process on the bottom and the sides as well.  When this is finished, you can remove the paper covering on the outside of the tape to expose the sticky side for the plastic.

Next, simply take the plastic in the kit and begin to apply it from the top down.  You are not looking for a drum tight fit, but do your best to keep the edges smooth and taut.  When beginning at the top of the window, place the plastic on the tape and smooth it from the middle outward to help ensure a good fit.  Try to keep the edges smooth to keep air from leaking out over wrinkles in the plastic where it meets the tape.  Move your way down the window sides unrolling the plastic as you go.  When you get to the bottom of the window, remember to unroll enough to let roughly 2-3 inches of the plastic overhang the bottom edge.  Use your scissors to cut the plastic to length.  Use the same process as you did at the top of the window and smooth the plastic out from the middle to the edges.

Now is the time for the hairdryer to come into play.  The plastic used in these kits is designed to react with heat.  It causes it to shrink in the same manner than shrink-wrap material does in a commercial sense.  With the hairdryer on high, point it at the plastic while moving constantly.  Keep the hairdryer no farther away from the plastic than ½ inch.  Do not keep the hairdryer in one place for more than a moment, if you do, you will melt right through the plastic and have to start again with a new piece.  As you pass the hairdryer over the entire surface in this fashion, you will see the wrinkles disappear and the surface will tighten and become easy to see through.

Once you are satisfied with the appearance, you can move on to the next window.  You have created a dead air space between the window glass and the plastic insulating your home and keeping 30% of your money for heating from leaking out…and you did it on the cheap!

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