5 Ways to Insulate Your Windows for Winter

5 Ways to Insulate Your Windows for Winter

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Sarah Coffey
Oct 24, 2018
(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Chilly winter weather is headed our way, and with it comes the temptation to turn up the heat on our thermostats. Look to your windows instead, and invest in one of these draft-stopping solutions that will help warm up your space, and save you money in the long run. Here's a mini-guide of solutions, with pros and cons of everything from layered curtains to shrink-wrap film.

Rubber Weather Stripping

You can buy strips of self-stick rubber weather sealing at a hardware store or online. Cut long strips down to fit your window dimensions, then peel and stick to the frame to close any gaps and keep out drafts.

Pros: Cheap, effective, minimal alterations to appearance of windows.
Cons: When you peel away the rubber strips, they can damage paint or leave a sticky residue.

Window Insulation Film

Clear window film is very affordable (one cheap kit is enough to cover 4-5 windows). And, if applied correctly, it won't interfere with the look of your windows. Kits usually include plastic shrink film that is applied to the indoor window frame with double-stick tape, then heated with a hair dryer to shrink the film and remove any wrinkles.

Pros: Cheap and effective.
Cons: If installed incorrectly, the film gives windows a cloudy, shrink-wrapped look.

Cellular Shades

Cellular shades insulate while still letting in light through the windows. They can be ordered and custom cut from home and design centers, and from a few sellers on Amazon (in addition to a range of pre-cut standard sizes). We found a good set of step-by-step instructions for installation here.

Pros: They let in light and can be custom-fitted for doors and windows.
Cons: They can be expensive and may not insulate as much as heavier curtains.

Layered or Insulated Curtains: To keep cold air from sneaking into your home through the windows, double down on your window treatments. Use heavy fabrics or layered curtains over the windows to keep out drafts. Or, purchase insulated curtains with built-in thermal backing. Another benefit of thermal curtains is that the thick fabric is typically also light-blocking, which can help light-sensitive sleepers.

Pros: Looks good, can be matched to your home decor.
Cons: Curtains can be expensive and heavy drapes can block out light.

Draft Snakes

Draft snakes are fabric tubes placed on a window sill or under a door to prevent cold air from creeping in. These are especially nice if you have a drafty older home where the door and flooring don't match up and there's a huge gap. You can make one by sewing a tube of fabric to fit the width of your window and filling it with dried rice, or throw a basic, serviceable one into your Amazon shopping cart.

Pros: Cheap, easy to make as a DIY project.
Cons: It only insulates the window sill, not the glass or frame.

(Image credit: Léa Jones/Stocksy)
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