Weatherproof Those Windows To Keep Cold Out, Bills Down

Jack Frost lurks outside your home like a slasher flick villain, and if you want to keep his icy fingers off your thermostat, you’d better make sure your windows are sealed tight.

A Wired How-To Wiki explains methods of weatherproofing windows. Tips include stopping drafts by lining the bottom of your window with rice-filled socks or beanbags, covering your windows with plastic and investing in an extra, thicker set of curtains.

What are your tricks to keeping your home warm during the winter? My suggestion: Move to Arizona, where the highs are in the mid-70s these days.

Weatherproof Your Windows [Wired]


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  1. APriusAndAGrill says:

    Isn’t this advice like saying “use curtains to keep the light out”

    seems kinda obvious.

  2. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    That picture reminds me of when I first put Ash Lee outside, and she walked up the bilco doors to the window in the dining room, and stood there mewling at me. So depressing.

  3. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    I just do the old shrink-wrap routine, works just fine. The rice-socks thing sounds interesting, but I kinda need my socks to y’know… keep my feeters warm.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      I am tempted to do shrink-wrap again this year, after not doing it for many years. The difference is I think i want to do it in the summer this time!

      My apartment is situated so it never goes below something like 60 degrees, even with the heat turned off and the temperature dropping to almost freezing at night. But my co-worker lives in an older home and she didn’t know about the shrink wrap until i told her about it yesterday.

      By the way, I once recycled old ties (left over from an ex-boyfriend, LOL) into draft stoppers. Filled them with rock salt, though. Rice will absorb moisture and get moldy and stink.

    • Marlin says:

      Shrink wrap works best for single pane windows. I have one in my place and did that and it helps alot.

      Also don;t forget to check for leaks around outlets (power, cables, etc…) as they can leak as well.

      • Dave Farquhar says:

        Hardware and home improvement stores sell gaskets for insulating wall outlets and switches. I went the extra mile and put child safety outlet covers on too, which eliminates drafting from the electrical plugs themselves. I’m not sure about the return on investment on that, but since I have young kids I needed them anyway and they’re a lot more convenient than the removable safety plugs.

    • KillerBee says:

      I have several problems with the shrink wrap. I still have to seal up the cracks around the drafty windows, otherwise a good stiff breeze will pop it loose from the adhesive and I’m back to square one. It’s also a pain in the butt to install on large windows. Plus, the kits I’ve used left a sticky residue that is really hard to clean off in springtime.

      I really just need to spring for new windows.

      • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

        Yeah in your case, getting new windows would probably be the better solution. Honestly, the plastic-wrap is a stopgap solution that we use in the winter because we can never be bothered to have the windows replaced or have the gaps sealed.

      • Marlin says:

        I have had mine on for 2 years now, large window, and never had a problem with it coming off or leaking.
        I got the national brand that lowes, HD, wally world, etc.. carry.

        But yea if the windows are leaking that bad even the cheap vinyl windows at a window warehouse or lowes/HD would work better. Not hard to install IMO.

      • xnihilx says:

        We shrink wrap ours and had this problem. In our case we’ve found that it was the cheaper shrink wrap and tape. There seems to be two kinds of plastic a really thin kind and a thicker one. Also, we’ve sprung for some good ole Scotch brand double sided tape instead of what comes with the window plastic and that seems to make a difference. Plus, make sure your windows are somewhat cleaned off. (a difficult task I know, our windows are probably from the 70’s) Last of all we use a heat gun instead of the hair dryer because it is quicker and gets the plastic must more taught. (just have to watch that we don’t linger on a spot too long)

  4. Foot_Note says:

    evil cat must be invited inside to suck yer soul out!

  5. turkishmonky says:

    At our home one of our windows just cracked because of the cold… it was just replaced 6 months ago too, so we’re thinking the glass was bad to start.. Only noticed it because I was weatherproofing all the windows in our house.

  6. webweazel says:

    Our windows aren’t too bad, but we do get drafts around the movable pane. We get rope caulk:

    Just cut to length and peel off a strip, press lightly to seal any air gaps. Works very well, is easily removable/replaceable to be able to open a window when needed, then put the caulk back on again. It leaves no residue at all.

    I remember seeing a tip about how to be able to use your shade controls while using window film:—Windows/Window-Repair/how-to-operate-window-blinds-covered-with-shrink-film

    Two good tips, I hope!

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      Regular window putty is not hard to use, either. Press it well into the crack with your finger, scrape off the excess with an X-acto knife, and brush away the oily residue with a soft scrub brush dipped in baby powder. Rope caulk looks like hell when you’re done, a thick messy piece of goop. Window putty sticks fast and looks professional. (This is what we used in my studio to keep stained glass pieces from rattling in the frame, by the way.)

      • webweazel says:

        !!!!! Hey! You just gave me a good idea for making stained glass! Using either rope caulk, putty, or maybe poster stickem to hold the glass pieces in position for tacking, rather than messing with pins. I’ll have to try it sometime and see which one works better.

  7. pplrppl says:

    Bubble wrap and water in a spray bottle.

    • Chip Skylark of Space says:

      We just went this route this week. I was originally going to do this on the 2nd floor porch, but my wife got on board with it, and we did every window on the first two floors of the house, and are doing the third floor and the basement tonight. She bought four rolls of 24 inch large bubble wrap on-line, and we’re through 1.5 rolls so far. I still haven’t done the second floor porch yet. The Christmas lights look pretty cool through the plastic too.

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      That’s cool, but I unfortunately can’t use it in my windows because I am on the ground floor of my apartment complex and I’m not allowed to use any window treatments that look different from the standard white mini-blind from the outside. I stretch a point enough with stained glass window ornaments and Christmas lights.

    • Dave Farquhar says:

      Thank you for sharing that trick! It should work well, and the price is definitely right. It’s easy to salvage bubble wrap.

      I have thermal curtains, and if all goes well, I may even replace some windows this month (I still have some aluminum-framed windows, and they are a killer), but every extra R you can get helps.

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      Best NEW tip I’ve heard in years. Other tips, if you follow the links, HERE:

  8. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    All of you people with your traditional windows! I’m a teensy bit jealous. We have high winter heating bills because we have ginormous windows and can’t hang curtains without it looking ridiculously ugly, and digging into the ceiling. We’ll just shiver a little more, I guess.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      keeping your thermostat at just below comfortable helps you burn extra calories in an effort to stay warm. If nothing else, it encourages you to move around more to get the blood flowing.

    • zzyzzx says:

      You need less windows or pieces of insulation where the windows are.

  9. kamiikoneko says:

    Weatherproof Those Windows To Keep Cold Out, Bills Down

    Leave the poor Bills alone, they already lose almost every game…They do fine at keeping themselves down

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:


    • hotdogsunrise says:

      They lose every game, but get so close to almost winning! That’s almost worse. So yeah, no need to keep the Toronto Bills down… oh, I’m sorry. The Buffalo Bills.

  10. MaytagRepairman says:

    I was really hoping they would extend the tax credit for energy efficient home improvements beyond the end of this year but it doesn’t look like it will happen. I want to replace many of my windows but I didn’t do it this year because I didn’t want to go in debt to take advantage of it. I can just hear it when I go to order them next year “You should of came in last year”.

  11. AllanG54 says:

    Most of the time, when you’re in a frame house it’s not the windows that are the problem but when there’s a strong enough wind, it’s the house itself. The wind comes right under the siding or shingles and blows in anyhow. If the house is not wrapped with Tyvek or something similar sealing the windows doesn’t help a whole bunch. My house in New Jersey was terrible and if I held a candle to an electric socket on a windy day it would probably have blown out due to all the leakage because insulation on the inside walls doesn’t do anything.

    • Gregory says:

      Air seal. Get the caulking gun out and seal around window and door trim, use foam gaskets behind outlet and lightswitch plates. In most homes the air movement can be reduced to near zero just with some effort and cheap acrylic caulking.

  12. Gregory says:

    Air seal. Get the caulking gun out and seal around window and door trim, use foam gaskets behind outlet and light switch plates. In most homes the air movement can be reduced to near zero just with some effort and cheap acrylic caulking. Got white walls? Use white caulk. Otherwise use clear for less obvious work.

    While single pane windows area a problem, in most homes and even apartments the real inefficiency is air movement. Even the best insulation will be less effective if the house still leaks air. The air leaks in an average home can add up the same amount of heat loss as leaving a window open.

  13. Sword_Chucks says:

    I have those square privacy windows with the slit vents, and most are fine, but the two in my bedroom are old and pretty much don’t do anything for the wind. My bedroom and the rest of my apartment have about 20-30 degree temperature difference

  14. KhaiJB says:

    if you have mosquito/bug screens, pop ’em out and cover the inside of them with plastic and pop’em back in.

    the extra layer will help a lot :)

  15. outlulz says:

    I rent an apartment with windows that are thin as paper and that the landlord won’t replace. So no luck for me.

  16. stuny says:

    Of all the unexpected things I have read on the internet, “rice-filled socks” is the strangest.

  17. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Just did the shrink wrap thing last night, except for the kitchen window. I ran out of big pieces. I think I can stick some together and make it work.

    It helped a lot. I could feel a noticeable difference after a couple of hours of the temperature dropping outside.

  18. beappleby says:

    We actually have big styrofoam plugs that we put in our bedroom windows. They’re about an inch and a half thick; we’ve had them since I was little. My mom made them. They’re covered in aluminum foil, with contact paper over that and duct tape around the edges. It’s not an airtight seal, but it really makes a difference!

    Although it makes it harder to get up in the morning, since it stays dark…