How to Help Out Your Heating Bill with Window Insulation

January 8, 2016

During the winter even the smallest gaps and holes in your home’s ‘insulation envelope’ can add up to obscene amounts of wasted money over the course of the heating season. It doesn’t matter whether you live in an apartment, a modern home, or an old home with lots of character. A great way to help prevent your home from hemorrhaging heating money is to address the significant amounts of heat that are lost through the windows. To help protect the environment through conserving valuable resources–and protect your energy bill–remember the following tips to stop heat from escaping through your windows:

1. Plastic Window Insulation
Removeable plastic window insulation, available in kits from many home improvement and hardware stores, provides another thermal barrier between your windows and the frigid temperatures. And this type of insulation has two other practical and cost-saving benefits. First of all, it is pretty darn inexpensive—ensuring that you don’t have a long time to wait before the investment pays for itself. Secondly, they are really easy to install, lending themselves to the DIY person in the household!

Typically, the window insulation kit is applied with double-sided tape, and often a basic plastic track, along the interior of the window frame. After the plastic film is fully installed per the kit’s instructions, heated from a hair dryer is usually used to smooth out any wrinkles and pockets of air. The only downside is that this vinyl film can make it harder to see out of your windows, and the finished look may not fit with the rest of the home’s interior look. These, of course, are subjective decisions one should consider before making the purchase.

2. Rubber and Vinyl Weatherstipping
Another handy alternative is installing new and improved weatherstipping, available for a variety of household applications, including the windows and doors around your home that let cold air in through annoying cracks. You can even find replacement weathertripping for your garage door or workshop! The important goal that all these products share: eliminate air gaps that suck heat out of your home. Whether you should add weatherstripping to the actual door or window, or to their frames, all depends on the original manufacturer’s design, and the nature of your home. We recommend that you first make a clean, accurate drawing of your areas in question. Then take a quick drive: Your local hardware store or home improvement center is a great place to start learning about weatherstripping that you can install yourself, and see products that are currently available. There may also be online sources that you can reference.

3. Cellular Shades
Adjustable cellular shades are a great way to insulate your windows, offering excellent thermal performance while also adding to the interior of your home, aesthetically. A variety of colors and styles are available to compliment your home decor. These products are a big step up in price from the plastic window kits, but they bring so much more to the table that it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Most customers we meet that own cellular shades, love them and are glad they made the investment. With any investment in home comfort, take the time to become an educated buyer.

4. Layered or Insulated Curtains
Thermally effective curtains can be a nice alternative–or even a compliment–to cellular window shades. Because of their heavy material, they can also do a good job of insulating your windows. And with curtains, you have a multitude of options to choose from, so you shouldn’t have much concern about finding a good fit to match the interior of your home. But there are a couple of potential drawbacks to this solution: Firstly, curtains are a bit of an “all or nothing” proposition, as they can easily block a lot of the sunlight that we find to be so precious in the short winter days. Second, curtains do not provide as airtight a fit in the window frame as good quality cellular shades, so cold air convection could be an issue. Be aware also, that custom curtains can get pricey at times. One best case scenario we envision, under ideal conditions,, would be to make good use of a sewing machine and take the DIY approach to curtains…And also look into a good insulated shade that doesn’t block out tons of light. In extreme locations and conditions, they work great in tandem!

5. ‘Draft Snakes’
Last but not least are draft snakes, a wonderful homespun alternative to fancy modern weatherstripping. We’re sure most of you have seen these already, but maybe didn’t make the name connection. Draft snakes are commonly used to plug sizeable gaps around your door and window frames, and when done right, they do a great job of eliminating those irritating and uncomfortable drafts in your home–especially large gaps at the bottom of older doors that have seen better days! Not only can they be purchased inexpensively, but you also have the option of making them yourself. With a little spare fabric and dry rice, you can make an insulation solution that costs you next to nothing…and also adds a little of that down-home feeling!