How Winterizing Windows Can Help You Save Money
Have you thought about winterizing windows? It might seem a little early in the year, but it's best to take action before chilly drafts creep in and increase your heating bill. Fortunately, there are a few ways to get your windows ready for the cold that are inexpensive and will get the job done.
Here are some of the main ways to winterize your windows:
Plastic Film Insulation
Plastic film is available in do-it-yourself kits that include mounting tape; you set the plastic film over the entire window and use a blow-dryer to seal it. The Home Depot, Lowe's, and other hardware stores offer these kits for under $10. Plastic keeps out most drafts, and it's easy to get it to work. However, there are a few downsides. This method is only effective as long as the window is kept shut, so if you expect to open windows at any point before spring, then the plastic film isn't for you. It can be a bit tricky to apply plastic film without getting any unsightly bubbles or wrinkles. You'll also need to buy an appropriately sized kit for each window, which can increase the cost if you have several windows to cover. If your windows are especially large or oddly shaped, finding the right kit may be difficult. And while plastic film usually gives sufficient protection from mild to moderate drafts, you might need a sturdier solution for a really deep freeze
Cut a strip of adhesive-backed foam and apply it like tape to a window sash or sill. When you close the window, the foam takes up the space between the sash and sill preventing cold air from entering. This is a waterproof, effective, and easy method of winterizing. You can use it on windows of any size or shape because you can apply as much or little foam as you need. This form of weatherstripping is affordable and usually sells for $17 or less for a 13-foot strip from home improvement stores. Possible downsides are that it's visible around the edge of the window and it can be damaged by wear and tear.
You can place a strip of felt around the inside of windows to seal up any cracks. Felt is widely available, easy to use, and cost-effective — a 17-foot roll usually sells for under $4. However, felt has some downsides, too. It can get damaged by moisture, so if you have melted snow or rain seeping in, felt is not the right solution. And even in dry conditions, felt wears down relatively quickly and needs to be replaced after one to two years. If you have several windows or very large windows that are a pain to weatherize, you may not want to apply felt because you'll have to repeat the process frequently. It's also important to keep in mind that felt is visible.
Silicone can be applied around the exterior of windows and can be used to fill in cracks or crevices of any shape. Silicone caulk is weatherproof and long-lasting. It's one of the more effective winterizing methods and it's very affordable. Ten ounces of silicone caulk usually costs $6–7. Possible drawbacks are that it can be difficult to remove and it often can't be painted over. It may also require a little more knowledge to apply caulk correctly; this isn't as simple as peeling and pressing an adhesive strip.
When you're deciding how to winterize windows, consider your unique requirements. Do you want something durable, flexible, and able to withstand rough winter weather? Silicone caulk may be your best bet. But if you're more interested in ease of use or a temporary measure, adhesive weatherstripping or plastic film can serve you well.