Getting Familiar with the Different Ways of Window Insulation

Getting Familiar with the Different Ways of Window Insulation

Insulation
Windows
By Dikran Seferian April 18, 2022

Your heater is on, the windows are shut, and yet there’s a draft coming from somewhere. Chances are it’s from those windows. But that doesn’t mean you need to replace them, and it definitely doesn’t mean you have to crank up the heater even more.

The answer to your problems is insulation. There are easy and effective ways to insulate your windows so that your home stays warm in the winter — and cool in the summer. Not only does insulation prevent air from seeping in through gaps, but it also controls the surface temperature of the window to avoid condensation, which usually happens when you turn up the heater to counter the draft. That being said, a well-insulated window allows you to save a great deal on energy costs by not having to overwork your HVAC. What’s great is that these solutions are not only great for both winter and summer, but a number of them also help in soundproofing your living spaces.

Window Film

A quick and practical way to successfully insulate your windows is by applying window film. This simple solution essentially creates a thermal barrier between the windowpane and the interior of your home. Available at home improvement stores, the kit consists of a plastic shrink film and two-sided adhesive tape. Simply measure how many films you need for your window and cut it with precision. Using the tape, stick the film to the interior side of the window frame and remove the folds by applying heat with a hairdryer.

Not only is this solution fairly simple, but it is also an inexpensive one. Window insulation film kits typically cost between $10 and $30. This means you can insulate each of your windows for as little as $3. 

Caulking

Using a high-performance sealant such as caulking is a common and cost-effective way of insulating windows. This method is great at blocking drafts and preventing moisture, which can otherwise result in a buildup of mold and mildew. It also helps in reducing the amount of noise that comes through the window; acoustic caulking, in particular, is specifically designed for this purpose.

Applying the caulk is a pretty straightforward process. It basically involves using a caulk gun to seal gaps and cracks along either side of the window. Once cured, the material will effectively insulate your living spaces and, in doing so, reduce your utility costs. 

Caulking your windows can prevent airflow and moisture.

Caulking your windows can prevent airflow and moisture.

Weatherstripping 

Another method of window insulation involves weatherstripping. This quick and inexpensive solution is similar to caulking in regards to how it prevents air from entering through gaps in the window. This allows your home to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Weatherstripping is also known to have noise-reduction properties, making it a great voice if you live on a busy street.

You can find a 7-foot roll of self-adhesive weatherstripping tape for $10. All you’d need to do is to cut the strips according to the size of your windows and stick them along the inner edges of the frame. Bear in mind that you may need to replace the strips after a while as they tend to deteriorate. 

Cellular Shades

The honeycomb-shaped pockets that cellular shades contain make them effective insulators and a great alternative to curtains. The pockets are meant to trap air, essentially helping to maintain a moderate indoor temperature throughout the year. For the best results, make sure to install the shades as close to the window panes as possible.

You may also want to pick the dimensions precisely so that they fit the windows as the sides are held tight to the wall. This allows for the formation of a sealed air space that keeps your home at the desired temperature any time of year — especially when combined with another type of insulation. 

Window treatments that double as insulation are cost-effective in the long run.

Window treatments that double as insulation are cost-effective in the long run.

Thermal Curtains

As the name suggests, thermal curtains consist of a special lining that allows them to regulate indoor temperature by preventing unwanted airflow. This makes them a great source of year-round insulation, conserving indoor warmth during the colder months, and keeping the house cool come summer.

You may also find out that thermal curtains are yet another way to filter a good amount of outdoor noise. The only issue is that they tend to block natural light. You can, however, tie the curtains to the side during the day – if you have them installed on a curtain rod. You don’t even have to worry about ruining the aesthetic since these window treatments are available in a variety of colors and designs.

Thermal curtains may block sunlight, but they are natural insulators of both airflow and noise.

Thermal curtains may block sunlight, but they are natural insulators of both airflow and noise.

Removable Magnetic Window Insulation

A highly practical and convenient way of insulating your windows is by using removable magnetic vinyl. Instead of adhesives, the insulating vinyl is attached to the window with magnets. This allows you to remove it and place it back whenever you need to, which is ideal if you prefer opening your windows every now and then during the winter.

Installing the removable magnetic window insulation is a piece of cake. The process basically involves applying magnetic paint to the window trims and attaching magnetic tape to the vinyl. The two magnetic surfaces will allow the insulating vinyl to latch onto the window, essentially creating a formidable barrier against drafts.

Bubble Wrap

The bubble wraps that everyone enjoys popping with their fingers can surprisingly be used to insulate windows. Although it’s not the prettiest solution, it’s a relatively convenient and inexpensive one. Make sure to go for the ones with bigger bubbles as they offer better insulation than those with smaller ones. 

Applying the wrap is fairly easy. Simply mist the glass surface with water and place the bubble side against the moist window. Make sure to seal the sides using double-sided adhesive tape. Once applied, the bubble wrap acts as an additional pane and can be an urgent way to insulate your windows. You may, however, want to bear in mind that it will somewhat alter the view; but that won’t matter should you be using shades as well.

Insulating your windows shouldn't cost a major buck.

Insulating your windows shouldn't cost a major buck.

Draft Stopper

The name says it all. Also known as a draft snake, the draft stopper is a hassle-free way to stop cold air from flowing in. It basically consists of foam stuffed in a fabric tube that you can lay horizontally along the base of the window. Since this solution only prevents drafts that come from underneath the window, It won’t be of any help if you have wind seeping in from the sides o from the top. One advantage of a draft snake is that you can make one yourself by stuffing a long sock with gravel, rice, or beans and sewing it shut.

Double-Pane Sashes

If your budget permits, an ideal way to insulate your windows is by replacing them altogether with double pane ones. These windows consist of two glass panes attached to the frame with argon gas in between them. Not only does this inhibit the transfer of heat significantly better than single-pane windows, but it can also cancel up to 60% of the noise that passes through.

The insulating properties of double-paned windows allow you to save a great deal on energy costs throughout the year — whether you’re trying to warm your home in the winter or cooling it down in the summer. And if a double-pane isn’t enough for you, an even more effective option is a triple-pane.

Energy efficiency of windows can be achieved in many ways.

Energy efficiency of windows can be achieved in many ways.

Insulation Panels

Installing an insulation panel on your window is another smart way of blocking the transfer of heat. It is basically a frame that you simply attach to the interior side of your window. The frame is lined with a type of weatherstripping around its perimeter. This allows the panel to seal the window, effectively insulating it.

Remember to take precise measurements of your windows before buying an insulation panel kit to make sure it fits properly. Once the kit is installed, an air pocket will form between the window and the panel. Any air that leaks through gaps in the window will end up getting trapped in that pocket. 

Secondary Glazing

People often confuse secondary glazing with double glazing, but although they sound similar, they are quite different. The latter basically refers to double pane windows which, as mentioned earlier, contain argon gas in between the glass panes.

Secondary glazing, on the other hand, is actually an additional window that you can install behind the existing one. The resulting space between the two window layers acts as a buffer zone that blocks the transfer of heat. Although double glazing wins when it comes to thermal efficiency, secondary glazing is better at noise reduction — generally due to the larger gap between the glass panes.

Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian