When you realize there’s a draft coming from your windows, you might think about new windows or storm windows if you have older, wooden windows. These are the traditional solutions to reducing unwanted air flow, with cold air from outside getting in … or in the summer, you actually lose cool, air conditioned air to the outside. New windows are the right long term solution but what if they’re not in your budget right now?
Bubble Wrap Your Windows
Yes, bubble wrap. What we normally associate with moving or packing fragile items so they won’t break. The air pockets that provide a cushion against impact, can also provide a barrier to reduce the flow of cold air. The concept is the same way as dual pane windows providing a pocket of air between 2 panes of glass. It is the air that provides the insulating value, as it slows down the transfer of air.
There are many reasons to love this solution, and if I’m missing some, please share them with us by leaving a comment.
- Unlike insulating shades that block the sunlight, bubble wrap is clear and lets most of the sunlight through so you still have a cozy, inviting room that is warmer and feels more open.
- Bubble wrap can be reused for several years, generally 5-7. You’ll know it’s time to replace the wrap when it sticks to the window and removing it gets difficult.
- Get creative on finding your bubble wrap, as lots of people are throwing it out. Check with furniture stores and other retailers who throw away bubble wrap on a frequent basis and volunteer to dispose of it for them … so it might be free (well, your time really isn’t free).
- Hardware stores sell “window sealing kits” that use sticky tape. When the sticky tape sits too long, it’s difficult to remove. The film isn’t reusable so you’ll need to buy a new kit each year.
- Bubble wrap is easy to put up, take down and roll up to store over the summer. You should label each piece of bubble wrap as they’ll all look the same when you take them down. Draw a layout of the rooms and label each window AND bubble wrap, i.e. DLB = dining room left window bottom, DLT, DRB, DRT, etc.
Installing Your Bubble Wrap
- Measure each window pane, following the well known rule “measure twice, cut once” … following diagram shown here.
- Cut the bubble wrap, using a paper template if that will make you more comfortable.
- Spray a light film of water on the window using a small spray bottle. If it’s used, clean it thoroughly as you don’t want to leave a film on your glass or worry about the bubble plastic.
- Press the bubble side against the window while it’s still wet, and position it to fill the space fully. A tight fit means both the air trapped inside the bubbles, and the air between the window pane and the back of the bubble wrap will help reduce air flow, and save you heating dollars.
- If the bubble wrap starts to separate from the window, the recommendation at BuildItSolar.com is to add glycerine to the water.
Removing Your Bubble Wrap
The bubble wrap should come off easily. Depending on the quality of the plastic, it should last several years and when it becomes difficult to remove, it’s time to replace it. Peel gently, starting at one corner. Remember to mark each piece as you remove it so each piece goes back where it started. There shouldn’t be any mess but you’re already there, so maybe it’s the right time to wash your windows.