When you live in a city with cold winters, your lovely old Victorian apartment can quickly turn into drafty icebox. If you're a renter — or you own but replacing your windows just isn't in the budget this year — you've got to find creative ways to deal with drafts. To get you started, here are some tips for shopping for weather strips, window film, curtains, and more.
Rubber Weather Sealing
Self-stick weather strip tape can be purchased at your local hardware store or through a big box home improvement store. It can be made of rubber, felt, or foam, but I prefer the rubber since it's most durable, while felt is susceptible to moisture and foam degrades pretty quickly. (Tip: lay down painters tape beneath the self-stick tape to avoid damaging window frames or leaving sticky residue.)
Window Insulation Film
These are another inexpensive option (most kits sell for less than $20) available at most hardware stores. I've found these shrink-wrap kits more effective than weather strips alone. The problem is that they alter the appearance of your windows, giving them a cloudy, plasticy look.
These look much nicer than weather stripping and window film, but they're also much more expensive. They work by trapping hot and cold air between the shade cells, but they're not necessarily more effective than window film.
Curtains and Drapes
Heavy drapes are the most traditional form of insulation — they can warm up a home literally and aesthetically, but they can also be expensive. (Tip: save money by making your own curtains or layering a couple of inexpensive curtain panels over your windows.)
Draft snakes are tubes of fabric filled with synthetic stuffing or a natural insulating ingredient like dry rice. They're used on window sills or under gaps in doors to keep air from leaking in or out. They're inexpensive and helpful for blocking leaky gaps, but they don't insulate the glass or frame of a window like these other options do.
Updated by Mat Sanders on 11.23.11
• 5 Ways to Insulate Your Windows for Winter
Photo: Cellular Shades at the Shade Store