How To Insulate Windows With Plastic

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There are several ways to insulate windows, each of them requires different materials and tools. One of the cheaper and more energy-efficient options includes using plastic window film. It helps by sealing the gaps on windows to prevent condensation. But you might be wondering, how should you insulate your windows with plastic? Do they provide adequate insulation? We did the research to guide you through the process.

A window contributes to the insulation levels around a home. Plastic wraps can keep air from coming through unseen gaps in window frames. You can insulate your windows with plastic by following these basic steps:

  • Purchase an insulation kit
  • Keep your windows clean
  • Take measurements
  • Apply tape
  • Attach and seal the wrap

Most experts suggest using plastic wraps on your windows as a temporary alternative for other insulation methods. There are a few more things to cover before you choose to use plastic on your windows, from how effective they are and what materials work best. Keep reading to get further insight on insulating with plastic film.

Worker putting tape on the cellophane, How To Insulate Windows With Plastic

How To Winterize Your Windows With Plastic

A window contributes to the insulation levels around a home. Plastic wraps can keep air from coming through unseen gaps in window frames.

Winterizing windows with plastic films follows a simple process. The video below demonstrates how to attach the wrap to your window.

These steps explain how to insulate your windows using plastic:

1. Purchase An Insulation Kit

Hardware stores usually have insulation kits prepared to use for windows. These come with shrink-wrap plastic and double-sided tape.

Be sure to read the kit instructions to see if it will work on your window. Most insulation kits can go on vinyl, wood, and aluminum frames. If your windows have a different molding, you will need to see if the set is compatible.

Click here to see this extra-large window insulation kit on Amazon.

2. Keep Your Windows Clean

Before anything else, tape won't stick on a dirty surface, so cleaning your windows is necessary. Check the window panel, corners, and molding.

Use a clean cloth or rag to wipe around it if it's dusty. If there are stains, apply soapy water or a cleaning spray, then wipe it clean. You also have to ensure it dries completely.

3. Take Measurements

Measure your window frame and cut the plastic film accordingly. Add about an inch of wiggle room when cutting the wrap to make space for sealing.

Make sure you don't cut the film too small since it's easier to trim off excess plastic.

If your window is too big for the film, you might need different plastic. You can still use the rest of the tools provided in the kit at the same time as following the instructions.

For more information, check out this other post: How To Insulate Very Large Windows [For Summer And Winter]

4. Apply Tape

Place pieces of the tape around the window molding or frame. Avoid putting them directly on the window pane. Press them down firmly into place.

When placing the tape, be careful not to stick it directly onto the paint to prevent cosmetic damage.

Continue applying tape around the entire window. Note that the window seams should be inside the taped area to ensure effectiveness.

5. Attach And Seal The Wrap

Carefully peel off the backing of the tape one section at a time. Start with the top section, making sure the film is centered. Firmly press the wrap onto the tape once it's aligned.

Follow the same process with the sides, attaching the bottom portion last. Pull onto the film each time to eliminate wrinkles.

Press down onto the tape again to make sure the film is secure. Seal the plastic in place with a hairdryer, holding it a safe distance away. Do not let the hairdryer directly touch the wrap. Move from one corner to another diagonally.

Repeat the process to seal the whole wrap. Cut off the excess film after sealing.

To learn more about plastic film insulation, read through this post: How To Insulate Jalousie Windows

Should Plastic Go Inside Or Outside The Window?

Worker putting tape on the window

Usually, plastic wraps go inside the window. However, you can put plastic inside or outside of your window.

Installing plastic film on the outside can protect a window from extreme weather conditions while placing them inside helps with insulation and energy-saving.

If you don't mind the appearance, plastic can be a reinforcement against conditions such as strong wind, snow, and heavy rainfall.

When applying the film inside, it can temporarily seal off window gaps to allow proper insulation.

What Plastic Cover Should Be Used On Windows?

The plastic used in covering a window is usually thinner than other plastics. It resembles the wrap used in packaging food but is made more durable. These often come in window insulation kits.

Regular shrink-wrap or plastic bags are a few alternatives for this. They are similar in thickness and are much more accessible to purchase. When attaching these, the process is the same.

Can I Insulate Windows With Bubble Wrap?

Bubble wrap is another alternative for plastic window film. Attaching them is quicker, but they provide less visibility. Fortunately, you can take it off once spring comes, so the blocked view is only temporary.

A window with plastic casing and frost

Here's how to apply the covering:

  1. Prepare a spray bottle with clean water and bubble wrap.
  2. Ensure your window is clean and dry.
  3. Measure the size of the windowpane.
  4. Cut the bubble wrap according to these measurements.
  5. Spray water on the edges of the windowpane.
  6. Carefully and firmly press down the bubble wrap onto the damp pane with the bubble side against the window.
  7. Hold it down until the plastic stays in place.

You can use tape to attach it, but it may lift off paint once removed.

Does Plastic Over Windows Help With Insulation?

Yes, covering windows with plastic acts as another layer of insulation. The film traps air between the window and plastic, forming a sealing barrier. The confined cool air makes room for warm air to circulate in your home at the right temperature.

Even so, it's necessary to evaluate whether the plastic film method is best to use for your case. Consider the pros and cons to help you with your decision.

Pros Of Using Plastic On Windows

Bubble wrap on the condominium window

Here are some of the benefits of applying plastic for insulating:

Price And Availability

Compared to other window insulation methods, plastic film is cheaper. Window insulation kits come at affordable prices, while other plastic options are inexpensive and easy to find.

Added Security And Protection

Plastic window films can keep UV rays from coming through the windows. They also provide additional security by blurring the window view or acting like a protective layer if the window breaks.

Draft Reduction

Insulating with plastic film solves problems with drafty windows by sealing the leaks and holes.

Lower Energy Costs

Because the film closes off the gaps, it prevents cold air from spreading around your home, improving heat retention and reducing overall power consumption.

Cons Of Plastic Window Covering

Despite the benefits, below are some of the drawbacks you might run into when using plastic on your windows:

Installation Difficulty

Generally, installing the plastic film is simple, particularly with flat windows. If your window has latches, hooks, and other objects on the surface, it may be harder to attach smoothly.

Quality Difference

While cheap, some window insulation kits don't provide the same quality as similarly priced options.

Warranty For Windows

Your manufacturer may void the warranty if you put plastic on your windows. Check with them to ensure it's okay for you to attach them if you want to keep your guarantee.

When Should I Use Plastic Film?

Huge rolls of plastic films

It's best to use window plastic wraps if you're looking for an inexpensive, temporary insulation option during the winter or summer. They work effectively with old drafty windows or windows with many gaps.

Inspect your window before deciding to ensure a short-term solution will be enough. In some cases, you might be better off repairing or replacing your window.

Using the film in the summer maintains freshness, and attaching them during winter helps preserve energy.

How Do Plastic Windows Save Energy?

Energy star confirms that applying plastic over windows saves power, in addition to its insulating features. These are a result of reducing heat loss by adding more insulation.

Plastic films cover the unseen gaps around the framework where cool air goes through. And so, it reduces drafts, prevents condensation, and allows your home to feel warmer.

When your home is warmer, there's no need to consume extra power on your heater or for additional heating devices.

According to Energy Star, sealing air leaks can cut up to 20% of utility bills depending on your location. They recommend shrink-wrapping plastic covers to make it more effective.

The Verdict

Worker putting tape on the cellophane

Leaky windows cause problems in the winter and summer, especially with power consumption and energy costs. Experts suggest using plastic film on your windows as a temporary solution. It's an affordable option that promises efficiency with proper installation.

You can easily attach the plastic with tape and seal with a hairdryer or stick it to the window by sprinkling water on the glass.

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