Windows Insulation: Keep the Cold From Creeping Into Your Home [3 Simple Tips]

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In this article, we`ll show you how to insulate windows, enhance temperature levels and comfort at home. Keep reading to learn about several affordable cold-weather window treatment options.

Depending on your region and on the year your home was built, chances are high that your home's insulation rating is low. Because building codes did not require inclusion of insulation until recent decades, buildings frequently omitted the installation of insulating materials during construction.

With temperatures dropping into the single digits, your home is left shivering in a threadbare jacket instead of luxuriating in a cozy comforter. Unfortunately, adding insulation after initial construction is not always feasible and can be expensive, even if possible.

This especially is true if you rent your home, since you are unlikely to be willing or able to invest in adding insulation. Fortunately, there still are several steps you can take to help defend your home against invasion by cold fronts and keep the chills at bay.

Key to creating a comfortable interior is reinforcing the walls. Ideally, these walls would be well-insulated to provide an effective barrier between the outside cold and the inside living space. In reality, these walls too often offer flimsy protection from the elements. Over time, as buildings settle and are exposed to weather, joints and other connections begin to separate a little, allowing air to leak through. Air sealing your apartment or house is essential.

Identify Air Leaks and Drafts

First, identify all air leaks and drafts using a stick of incense or a candle. It is important to do this before we think about how to insulate windows. Slowly travel along all walls, noting where the smoke or flame bends or shifts direction, indicating a leak. Likely locations of air leaks include wall outlets, window frames, and ceiling light fixtures. Once leaks are found, use the appropriate method for sealing:

  • Large holes and gaps around 1/4" or larger can be filled with expanding foam spray.
  • Weatherstripping belongs around doors and movable window parts.
  • Silicone caulking or clay rope strips should be used to fill any remaining gaps.
  • Make draft stoppers to place at the bottom of doors to keep the cold from seeping in. Fill a pants leg, shirt sleeve, or pantyhose leg with fabric scraps, pebbles, sand, or rice.

How to Insulate Windows DIY Way

After all holes, gaps, and cracks are sealed, attention must be paid to the windows. Around half of all homes in the United States have only single-pane windows, which allow significant heat loss and account for up to 25% of your heating utility costs. In an ideal world, you would replace all windows with modern glazed, double-paned windows featuring energy-efficient treatments. When replacement is not feasible, try one of the affordable, yet effective options how to insulate windows below.

  • Create an insulating air barrier with bubble wrap insulation. Use whatever size of bubble wrap you have handy, though opt for the larger, quarter-sized bubbles if you have the choice. Cut pieces of the wrap to fit your window panes. Spray a mist of water on the window and then press the wrap in place. Note that this method obscures the visibility and isn't recommended for use on a window you wish to see clearly through.
  • Sheets of thin plastic also can be used to form a protective barrier between the cold glass and your interior space. Secure the sheets with strong tape to the outside of the window's frame. Be warned though, that removal will require extra care to avoid peeling off paint with the tape.
  • Easily construct cardboard shutters that can be removed during the day to allow in light and heat from the sun. Simply cut several pieces of corrugated cardboard to fit snugly in your window frame. Secure with duct tape. Attach foam weatherstripping around the entire edge and then put your shutters in place at least an inch away from the glass. For added insulation, glue aluminum foil or a section of an emergency space blanket to the side facing inwards. The material will reflect some infrared heat back into the room.

How to Isolate Windows when Landlord says No

All of these DIY projects are ideal for those with tight budgets, but what if your landlord says no? In that case there is not much you can do - finally you can further insulate your home only with strategic use of blankets. Snuggling up in a thick comforter keeps you warm and, similarly, wrapping your walls, windows, doors, and even ceilings with blankets will help keep your space warm. Hang a quilt over doorways to minimize drafts, and drape heavy curtains over the entire length and beyond. Keep fabric away from heat sources or flames. Also, periodically check behind any hangings to monitor for moisture, which leads to mildew and mold.

A combination of the weatherization techniques listed above will definitely reduce the shivers in your home.