With an average savings of over $15/window during heating season, we think insulating your windows with plastic film makes whole lot of sense—especially if you live in an old, drafty house. And if you've got any windows that don't open, keep those insulated year-round for extra savings on cooling costs during the summer months. Here's how.
What You Need
- Window insulation kit
- Extra window tape (optional)
- Measuring tape
- An extra set of hands (optional)
1. Before you even head out to the store, measure each window you plan to insulate. Plastic sheeting in the kits comes in many different configurations, and you can usually make one kit work for a few different windows, so it's important to know the exact dimensions you need to cover. Next to the insulation kits, you'll find window tape; it is sold with the kit, but I like to pick up an extra roll—just in case.
2. Wipe down the sill and the trim around the window throughly with a damp cloth. Check the window lock to be sure it is secure, and adjust the blinds to a desired height. Remember, you won't be able to move them around once the plastic is up.
3. Once the frame and sill are completely dry, apply the tape to the window frame on the front of the molding and down around the sill, leaving a 1" border from the edge of the frame. After the tape is applied around the entire window, go back over it and press firmly to ensure a secure hold. Don't be too worried about paint peeling off—the tape is secure, but not quite that strong.
4. Open your kit and lay the plastic sheeting out on a large, flat, dust-free surface (not the floor). Measure and cut the plastic so that it extends 5" on each side of the original window measurements. The box usually calls for less excess, but I like to allow lots of room, just in case.
5. Peel the paper from the tape across the very top of the window. Hold up your measured and cut plastic so that it frames the window with the 5" of excess around each side. Pull the sides taut and press the plastic sheeting onto the taped frame. Press firmly so that there are no gaps where air could escape.
Move from the top down, peeling back the tape in 10" increments on each side as you work your way down the window. Exposing smaller lengths of tape as you go allows better control of the plastic, lessening the chance of having it stick to an exposed area where it isn't supposed to go.
6. Once the sheeting is completely covering the window, go back around and press firmly over the tape with a dry cloth to ensure a secure hold.
7. Set a hairdryer to high heat and run it over the plastic, working 3"-5" away from the surface. If your hairdryer gets really hot, consider working a few inches further away from the plastic—the last thing you want to do is burn a hole through it!
Start at one side of the window and work your way back and forth and up and down until you've heated the entire window covering. Try not to stay in one area for more than a few seconds, and don't try to heat out the wrinkles on the first pass—they will come out as you heat the surrounding areas.
If you've heated the entire window and still have wrinkles, repeat step 7 once more, but heat sections for a shorter amount of time. You don't want to risk pulling the plastic too taut and ripping a hole in the insulation.
8. After you've heated the insulation with the hairdryer and removed as many of the wrinkles as you can, trim the excess plastic on each side of the frame. Hold the scissors close to the frame, and be careful not to pull the plastic off the tape while trimming.