Construction and Renovation

How to Insulate Your Windows with Shrink Wrap - the Best Money You'll Spend this Winter

Winter cold is back and if you have old windows it may seem like the wind is blowing right through them. 

Have you latched the window shut and still wonder why you can feel cold air or notice a candle flicker?

Have you latched the window shut and still wonder why you can feel cold air or notice a candle flicker?

  • Single Pane
  • Poorly Fitted
  • Poorly Sealed
  • Old Construction
  • Bad Seal

If your windows are any of the above you may think about an affordable, air tight solution that is - 

Shrink Wrap

The images below are an example of old single pain windows in a house that has become an apartment building. When these windows were installed they were intended to have an outer storm window installed for the winter months that would serve as a barrier against wind, and weather. By today's standards, even the original storm windows wouldn't serve their purpose as well as shrink wrap.

Last winter these windows were shrink wrapped and the tenant noticed an immediate difference in overall comfort and temperature in the apartment. Heat usage was decreased by more than 80% from one months heat bill to the next. 

It's Easy - Here's How

With simple tools like a scissors, knife and hair dryer you can have a standard window shrink wrapped before the next weather on the 1's comes on. 

  • Start with a clean, dry surface. In these images I use the window sill and inner frame so that the blinds can be used. An easy installation uses the outer window frame. 
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  • Apply the double sided tape to the window frame and sill. Cut as close to each corner as you can. 
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  • Remove backing paper. Tweezers or the scissors may help in finding a corner.
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  • Apply film slightly taut starting at the top then to the bottom and both sides (in a cross cross pattern). Stretch film and smooth out wrinkles as best you can. 
  • I found it easier to trim before shrinking however the instructions advise the opposite. Trimming before shrinking allows for any mistakes to be fixed before it's too late. Try both ways and see which works best for you.

It took me some time to figure out what all the numbers and symbols on the hair dryer meant. Every hair dryer is different but they definitely aren't meant to be a tool for the trades. 

  • Using high heat and low fan speed heat the film and watch it shrink. You'll notice that  the shrinking happens at what look like seams. Work along these seams.

The above image shows the film not quite taught but is a good example of the seams where the shrinking is happening the greatest. 

Two people can make short work of this process if one works on applying the tape and film and the other trims and shrinks. Once the hair dryer gets hot the film shrinks very quickly. Be aware that keeping the dryer still can melt the film. Always keep moving.

If you're wondering how it comes down in the spring...

Ta-Da!

  • Find a corner and pull. 

Sure it can be a fragile product but in most cases it will last the winter and come down easily when you're ready to let the fresh air in. 

Insulating your windows can prove effective in keeping your home warmer even if your windows are newer. Think for a minute about how your walls are insulated from the outside air. In most homes, even older homes with insulation, there is at least 4" of siding, wood, insulation and drywall. Your windows are mere fractions of an inch thick and consist of two panes of sealed glass filled with gas. Add a layer of plastic a few inches from the window and you slow the heat exchange or energy loss that much more. In short, even the best windows are likely the weakest link in your home's battle against the elements. A few dollars on shrink wrap could save hundreds on energy usage. It's natural for air to move in and out of your home, the key is to control or limit the heat loss as air moves through it. 

Cost 

In the case of this apartment with seven windows and a large slider the shrink wrap kits cost less than $15 and took about an hour.