Winterize! Window Insulation & Other Tips for a Warm Winter




Introduction: Winterize! Window Insulation & Other Tips for a Warm Winter

All windows loose heat in the winter - even double glazing. Energy-efficient glazing reduces heat loss through windows and means fewer draughts (drafts) and cold spots, but they are expensive and most of us only need their insulation properties over the colder months.

So, an extremely efficient supper cheap winter fix that you can apply to Windows, Doors and any area that could benefit from some temporary insulation or draft proofing is...BUBBLE WRAP (WHOOP WHOOP!)

We have all spent time as children popping it, stamping on it and bursting the bubbles with our teeth...but it's real magical stuff for insulation due to the trapped air.

The benefits of this are as follows:

  • Warmer house
  • Keeps the light coming in but cold out
  • Smaller energy bills
  • Smaller carbon footprint.
  • Reduced condensation

Step 1: Tools & Supplies

  1. Bubble Wrap: Super cheap! Small or large. I used small because it was recycled from a package, but I would buy large if going out to do it as there is more air. You may have a stash kicking about the house. If you don't care about light coming through, then you could use foam camping mats.
  2. Masking Tape: Super cheap! In any DIY store and super market these days. This stuff is easy to work with and generally, will peel away without taking paint off. I used the thinner stuff but the thicker might be easier to work with and get a good seal.
  3. Cutting Tool: Pair of scissors and or a Stanley knife / good sharp knife.
  4. Tape Measure: Or some other way to could cut out a cardboard template first.

Step 2: Measure and Cut Bubble Wrap to Correct Size

OK, so I put a picture up of my windows. You will note there are windows at the top which open and then fixed windows at the bottom of the unit. I covered the lower fixed windows, as I still want to be able to look out of my main windows. Look at the beautiful view! However, the bottom ones don't do much apart form letting light in, and letting heat out in winter.

You will also note that both windows are recessed from the window frame as most are. So when you hang and tape up the bubble wrap curtain, you create:

  1. a new layer of air between the inner window and the outer bubble wrap,
  2. another layer of air (the bubble wrap) between the new layer of air you created, and the inside your house.

So you just added two more layers of insulation (Whoop Whoop!) You went from:

  • Single to Triple (probably notice this one the most)
  • Double to Quadruple (my windows are double and this made a huge difference!)
  • Trippe to...Quintuple. I don't know anyone with Quintuple glazing. Why would you stop at three if you can get to 5 for under $15.00. Crank it up!

It's pretty simple:

  • Measure the size you need then cut it out. I cut on the big side so you can trim it for a good fit.
  • Use the masking tape to stick it to the window frame (bubbles toward window) creating a good seal.
  • Tip: use small pieces of masking tape to "hang" the bubble wrap from the top first. This helps you get it in place and correctly aligned. Then go round the whole frame and tape it up.
  • Finish was not too important to me, I just made sure it was airtight(ish).
  • You will note that I taped all round the bubble wrap - this might be overkill but I figured it would be better.
  • On my pics you will note there is one pic with tape going down on the window - this was just a join of two pieces of bubble wrap, as it was recycled.

That's it - pretty easy and very cheap. I did this two years ago and it made an immediate noticeable improvement. My windows used to get terrible condensation, but bubble wrapping reduced the condensation by about 95% on the windows that were not covered, and completely stopped condensation it on the ones that were covered. See the next step for some other Winter tips!

Step 3: Other Winterization Tips

These are some other tips I've picked up over the years so hopefully they will help you all keep warm

  • If you have windows on North Facing Walls (assuming you live in the Northern Hemisphere) then I would start with these windows first.
  • Do any windows you don't care about seeing through - especially any roof/attic type windows.
  • If you have any recessed windows in a room (window at the end of a cavity in your wall) you don't use much, you could tape up the whole recess so that the bubble wrap is flush with the inner walls. Allot of old houses have large thick walls with big recesses of two or three feet to the window, and often it's single glazing so worth doing if your getting cold / loads of condensation, and if you are not using room much, then definitely consider it.
  • If you have good long curtains, use them as they create another layer of air.
  • If you have Shutters on the inside or outside of the house, oil the hinges up and use them during the winter.
  • If you have a recessed loft hatch you don't use it much...Bubble wrap it (or use camping mats) so no air escapes into the loft. I did this and I think this made a big impact on keeping in the was sneaking out before.
  • If you have them, make sure your extractor fans work in the bathroom/Kitchen. They remove moisture in those rooms, which in winter makes you feel colder.
  • Try and keep the Kitchen and bathroom doors shut so that moisture does not escape, or the extractor sucks heat out of other rooms.
  • Try and dry clothes in a room that has extraction/good ventilation - not your bedroom or living room if you can help it.
  • If you have ceiling fans, most have a reverse switch that you can engage for winter - it changes rotation so pushes warm air DOWN, instead of sucking cooler air up.
  • If you have fire places that are not used, put crunched up News Paper in a plastic bag and stick it up the flue to make a seal. Then make a simple Fireplace Damper with a piece of ply-board with some camping mats/insulation glued on. Cut it flush so that it creates a "fireplace plug" thus giving a good seal - the camping mat end goes into the fire, ply wood on the room side.
  • Do some general heating maintenance: Bleed radiators, check safety certs are up to date.
  • Check your on the best energy tariff for winter.


Ok, so, I live in Scotland and it's freezing in winter. My friend lives in Arctic Norway and he thinks Scotland is the coldest place in the world. We get a damp coldness in penetrates through your skin, freezes your blood and drills into your bone marrow. I used to work on the Ski Chairlifts and there is nothing like wool to keep you warm. Get Wool'd up for Winter!

If you find wool a little rough, wear non wool layers then some wool tops or spend a bit more money and get cashmere wool. Merino wool is great and you can get very good thermals for good value. Wool socks are the ticket! Down body warmers are also awesome provided you stay dry, and a down body warmer under a waterproof jacket is the ticket.

NB - the current marketing buzz word in outdoor gear is moisture "wicking" fabrics as "base layers". The reality is that 'most' of these are polyester. They have benefits in that they are very light and dry quickly, but their wicking properties are dubious. They claim 'new manufacturing techniques' but I'm not convinced and they are pushed because they are high margin garments - very very cheap to make and then market them as high tech.

However, wool breathes so you don't get too hot, and if you do get wet due to over heating, rain, snow or a fall in a freezing cold Scottish bog, wool warms up and stays that way.

Wool layering is the business!

Shoes / Boots:

Got any old camping mats kicking about?

  • Get a black marker pen and use the insoles of your boots / Wellingtons shoes etc as a template to draw onto the old camping mat.
  • Cut out the shape carefully.
  • Insert it into your boots / shoes and hey presto...warm feet in winter!

OK - so when you first do this, you will feel that your shoes are too tight.

  • Persevere - this will not last long as the camping mat will compress and eventually become thinner.
  • NB - Some of the thicker mats might not compress enough - bit of trial and error required for this - but it made a big difference to my hiking boots - very warm!

Anyway, I hope these tips help - have a warm winter!

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    7 years ago

    Spraying the window glass with regular ol' water will do the trick to stick. As for thermal efficiency, you use large bubble wrap and stick the bubble side to the window. Low surface area contact and the air in the bubble takes the sink. Allowing the air space between the the flat side of the wrap and window to maintain thermal buffer. Super upside you can open and close said windows without removing the wrap. ;)


    Reply 7 years ago

    Hey J

    Ya the windows I did are fixed so not an issue. I thought about doing it with water but it's not as much of a buffer...I think that this way is better as there is a huge air gap (2") between the window and the bubble wrap, then there is the air trapped in the bubble wrap so more thermal buffer layers no?

    You know - the way I would do it if it were my own home (I rent) is I would put a magnetic strip around the outside and then have these thermal 'things' on cardboard frames or something with a metallic strip, so that you can whip them on in Autumn and off in Spring...that would be neat and you would get a good seal.


    7 years ago

    you can stick the bubble wrap to the window by spraying water on the window. I did that then put clear pvc the type for covetable car rear window over the frame so they could be cleaned


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Big bubble wrap isn't as good as small. Once an air space gets greater than the same volume as a 6 mm (1/4") in diameter sphere, convection currents start to work. Those currents transfer heat and equalize it in the given space. It is like stirring a bowl of soup to cool it faster vs just letting it sit. The small bubble wrap that you used is the way to go.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    So smaller bubbles work better?

    In general the advice I found was to go for bigger bubbles, but perhaps it's because they make for a more transparent window. Do you think trapping the bubbles between two sheets of plastic (some greenhouse bubble wrap for instance has two flat sides, if that makes sense) makes for a better insulator?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    As a person who uses masking tape a lot, can I say that you need to buy the good stuff for it to not leave residue after four months. Masking tape is good and removable for about a week but after that it sticks really fast. Good quality Sellotape works well. Lighter fluid will remove any sticky marks you have too.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the tips. We have a very similar winter to Scotland here in Nova Scotia (New Scotland), and I've been looking for a way to cut down on the heating bill.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    what are the odds.. when my windows wouldn't close all the way, I managed to seal them up with bubble wrap.. nice to know other people use that for a similar purpose too


    8 years ago

    An easier way to affix the bubble wrap is to dilute washing up liquid in a spray bottle with water. Spray the window and put on bubble wrap. Comes off in four months time with no residue or marks.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Hey Tim,

    You are right it is easier, but not as insulated due to direct contact with cool glass, and not an air tight seal. Although I'm not talking NASA spec here, the way above creates a huge air pocket...Hooah!

    So much awesome information! I love another use for bubble wrap, even though it means resisting the urge to pop it. Thanks for sharing!