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6 Ways to Insulate Windows for Winter

November 16, 2018

Before temperatures really begin to plummet, it’s a good idea to take a look at your home’s windows and come up with a plan to make sure you are keeping your heat in and the cold out in the winter.

If you live in an older home with old windows, you are likely more susceptible to heat loss than a house with newer, double-paned windows. If replacing old windows before the winter comes is not an option, there are several steps you can take to prepare your home for winter.

Not only will your home be cold if you have drafty windows, but you will see your energy bill begin to creep up thanks to the heat loss. Luckily, there are several ways to prevent this.

Ways to Insulate Your Windows

There are multiple methods to insulate your windows.

Insulate the exterior of your windows

Exposure to the elements over time will compromise the integrity of even the best windows and frames. It is a good idea to start on the outside of your windows, sealing up any cracks or imperfections that are allowing cold air to creep into your home.

You can use exterior grade caulking to seal any cracks around the exterior of the window. Use that same caulk to insulate the interior of your windows too.

This is a cost-efficient and effective solution for blocking up any visible cracks or holes that are allowing cold air to enter your home.

Apply rubber weather stripping

You can also buy specialized weather stripping designed to insulate windows. Weather stripping involves cutting the stripping to the correct length for your window frame and applying it directly to the frame via its sticky backside.

Keep in mind that when you have applied weather stripping to your windows, you will no longer be able to open and close the window with the stripping is in place. This may not be an issue in the winter months as opening your windows is not usually something you would want to do.

While weather stripping is a great low-cost option for sealing up drafty windows, just be aware that when it is time to peel the weather stripping off, it may leave a sticky residue and peel off paint.

Apply window insulation film

This is another affordable window insulation option that does an excellent job of preventing cold air from entering your home. You can purchase window insulation kits online or in your local hardware store.

These kits require you to cut and size plastic shrink film to the dimensions of your window. The film is then stuck onto the inside of the window frame with double stick tape, and a hair dryer or heat gun is used to shrink the film and smooth it out.

The main complaint with window insulation film is that it may not look the greatest on your windows as it tends to get cloudy and difficult to see through. This window insulation method is best for basement windows or other windows that you may not use and see often.

Purchase cellular shades

Cellular shades are a lightweight, custom fitted shade that cover your windows without blocking light from coming in. Most are white or off-white in color which still lets some light in.

You can custom order cellular shades to fit your windows precisely, or there are several standard-sized options available for purchase. Some kits even allow you to custom cut and size the shades yourself.

The benefit of having cellular shades as a defensive mechanism to drafty windows is that they do not block out light entirely and the window is still usable with the shades installed. On the other hand, these don’t offer as much draft protection as some other window insulation options and can be quite pricey if you purchase customized shades.

Invest in insulated curtains

Insulated curtains cover your windows during the cold weather months. Some curtains have a thermal backing to prevent cold air from sneaking in.

Many homeowners have their “regular” curtains on their windows throughout the year and then switch to their thermal, heavy duty curtains when winter hits.

The good news with curtains is that you can choose whatever style and color you wish and match it to your home’s existing décor. The downside to heavy thermal curtains is that they not only block out the cold, they also block out sunlight.

If you really want to get the most protection out of your winter window treatments, layering them is a good option. Utilize both cellular shades and heavy insulated curtains for best results.

Make or buy some “draft snakes”

Draft snakes are long fabric tubes, usually filled with rice or beans, that can be placed on window sills and under doorways to prevent the cold air from blowing in. These are especially helpful if your windows or doors have ample space between the door and the flooring.

This is a great, inexpensive option for keeping the cold at bay. You can even DIY your own draft snakes! All you need to do is purchase some fabric and rice and know some basic sewing.

Learn more about how you can strengthen your windows and make them safer by reading our guide to window security.

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  • How to assess vulnerabilities in your home
  • Why home security is about more than preventing burglaries
  • Cutting-edge security equipment: how home security has changed
  • Monitored vs. Self-Monitored Systems
  • Local vs. National Security Companies

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