Cheap insulation: saran-wrap your windows

Not literally, but just about.

In the next year or two we’ll be replacing the old, crappy, single-paned aluminum windows in our house. For this winter, though, we’re covering them over with a layer of window insulation wrap. Available at hardware and home improvement stores (aisle B6, at weatherstripping, in the Eugene Jerry’s), this is a cheap way to keep some of the cold out and the heat in.

Window kits cost less than $10 — and that’s for the big ones, up to 210 inches long — for large windows, or perfect for cutting up to cover multiple smaller windows. There’ll be some double-stick tape, just apply that around the window (inside or outside, though inside is easier) and apply the wrap from one top corner to the other, one side at a time.

The last part is the best: Get out a hair dryer, put it on its hottest setting, and blow it over the wrap. This removes wrinkles, stretching the wrap so it’s pretty much invisible.

We’ve done a few windows in the house so far, and I can already tell a difference. It will still be better once we replace all the windows, but we can get pretty close just by spending about $30 and doing some blow-drying.

11 thoughts on “Cheap insulation: saran-wrap your windows”

  1. what is also good is to stick some foam insulation around your window frames before doing the wrapping. especially if you’ve got some lose bits that let draughts in, the foam insulation strips can really be a godsend. One of my new housemates is a carpenter, and he said that will increase the efficiency of the plastic wrap. Also, according to Bob Villa and “This Old House,” you should also caulk around the outside of your window frames if it hasn’t been done recently.

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  2. Oh cool, thanks for that. Hmmm, may have to take up a couple of corners of the stuff in teh living room – I saran wrapped our big window in there before reading this. I hope your place is battened down well for those oh-so-lovely midwest winters

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  3. not battened down yet, but we’ve got to get to that soon. our October heat bill was already 2x that of September, and we’re looking forward to some not so fun bills (think $500 a month — thank goodness we have 6 people). It snowed last week, so maybe sometime this week I’ll try and encourage my housemates to go get some weatherproofing material with me.
    I also intend to go invest in a spaceheater for my room so that we can keep the house temperature fairly low but still feel relatively comfortable.

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  4. Oy. Those types of bills are why we’re getting rid of the oil heat now. Last I checked, heating oil was around $2.70, and the supplier told me that our home on the average used 3-5 gallons a day. No thanks.
    The space heater is a good idea too. We might get one for Jodie’s studio too, kind of the same idea. Can lower the stove temp if we want, but she still has a toasty space.

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  5. Thanks Andy. We’ve put up a fair bit of this around the house. So far, so good, except for a couple of installations where the tape has come up a couple of times. I’m thinking I didn’t get the surface clean enough before application…

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  6. Anyone out there that can tell me about “wrapping” a window that you are installing? My husband and I are about to install four new windows in our basement. We have heard the term “wrapping” used in window installation however, we do not know how to go about it nor what material is used. Thank you for any help you can give us.
    Charlene and Jessie

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  7. Best thing to do would be to check your local library – there are probably some books in there on windows and doors, and that would be included. Usually you’ll be caulking around where the window fits into the frame.

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  8. We did that last year (3M window wrapping) but had problems with our cat destroying the film trying to sit in the window. Now we have 3 cats, one’s a kitten, and we are trying to find a sturdier solution. Any thoughts?

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  9. I heard someone mention putting strips of masking tape across the plastic (or you could do something more artistic – paint?) so that the cat knows there’s a barrier there. Perhaps you could just do this to the bottom half of the window. Good luck

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