Wondering how to insulate old windows or if it's even worth the effort? Taking steps to seal those windows can keep your house more comfortable when there's a chill in the air.
Who can forget the scene in It's A Wonderful Life when George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) finds out his daughter Zuzu has a cold? He paces the floor of the kitchen as his wife Mary (Donna Reed) works on dinner and laments the state of his home. "Drafty old barn. We might as well be living in a refrigerator."
That was in 1946—before double-hung vinyl windows and air-tight window seals. Many homes can still feel like a "drafty old barn," thanks to old and weathered windows. It doesn't have to be that way, though. Once you learn how to insulate old windows, your house will be more comfortable than ever.
How to Insulate Old Windows:
By some estimates, your home may lose up to one-third of its heat through poorly insulated windows. Energy-efficient replacement windows aren't always an option, however. They may not be within your budget, or for renters, they might not even be an option.
Fortunately, it isn't tricky to insulate old windows. If you want to go in depth, you can find instructions on how to insulate old windows that get into some complicated steps. For most of us, however, there are some pretty easy and inexpensive ways to achieve the same goal.
One of the easiest ways to insulate old windows is to use your curtains. It isn't the most effective way to keep warm air in your home, but according to the U.S. Department of Energy, closing curtains may "reduce heat loss by as much as 25%." Additionally, your curtains can at least help reduce the draft in your home. Just be sure to open your curtains during the day so your home can absorb as much sunlight and warmth as possible.
2. Cellular shades
Another, and similar, solution is to install cellular shades. These shades have a honeycomb shape, with layers of air between folds of fabric. The shape helps keep warm air in your home and cold air out. As with the curtains, open your shades during the day to let in the sun's natural (and free) heat.
3. Draft snake
A draft snake goes at the base of your windows (or doors) to help block any cold air that may seep in through the gaps between the window and window sill. You can make your own by filling a tube sock with dry rice.
4. Rubber weather sealant
This peel-and-stick insulation is a simple way to seal the gaps around old windows. It's inexpensive, easy to use, and efficient. The downside is that because it sticks to your window frame, you'll be unable to open the window until you remove the sealant.
5. Shrink wrap insulation
One suggestion from Apartment Therapy is to buy a window insulation film kit. Using double-sided tape, apply the plastic insulation to your windows and use a hair dryer to "shrink wrap" your windows.
6. Use your storm windows
If you are fortunate enough to have storm windows, close them to give yourself extra protection from cold air and drafts. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests that storm windows "can reduce heat loss through the windows by approximately 10%-20%."
7. Bubble wrap?
Bubble wrap isn't just for packages anymore. According to move.org, it's also a great way to insulate old windows. Cut your bubble wrap to the appropriate size and secure it with double-sided tape.
8. Recaulk your window frames
The chances are good that you have more than a few gaps around your window frames. Take some time to go around your home and reseal any of these gaps. Even if you've recaulked recently, it's worth checking; caulking can deteriorate and crack over time, allowing plenty of cold winter air into your home.
9. Don't forget your doors
Old windows might be drafty, but doors are a big culprit, too. As old homes settle, doors and doorframes shift, losing some of the seals they may have had. Draft snakes, weather stripping, and even shades or curtains are all excellent ways to reduce the cold air coming into your home.
Front doors, back doors, and even that creaky door in the basement are all candidates for some weather protection. The more you can keep warm air inside your home and cold air outside, the better your wallet will feel when that utility bill shows up.
One way to keep warm is to ensure your heating system is working well. But even the best system can break down sometimes. That's why household mechanical equipment coverage from Pekin Insurance is a smart part of any home energy plan. Call your Pekin Insurance agent today to learn more.