Bubble Wrap Storm Window (Insert)

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About: IF YOU ARE IN THE GREATER Colorado Springs AREA AND WANT A NERD PROJECT FRIEND/BUDDY HIT ME UP. I enjoy building projects, coming up with solutions to common everyday issues. Fixing things instead of buy...


In this instructable I will show you how to make an INDOOR storm window that will keep plenty of cold out of a room, while letting light continue to come in. My version uses less than $4 worth of supplies, mostly from the DOLLAR TREE store.

THE STORY :)
I moved into an apartment on the 3rd floor. all windows were single pane. The building was built in about 1970, so there was poor insulation, and only single pane sliding glass windows.
It was very cold the first night and the pipes nearly froze in the bathroom. the window rattled and I knew I was in trouble.

By creating my bubble wrap storm window, I was able to raise the temperature in the room 15 degrees F in the first hour. As you can imagine the savings and comfort increased rapidly.

As you can see I do have some depth to the window so making this work was kind of easy. I suppose using clear tape , magnets, velcro etc, you might find another way to put a storm window of this type in place.

Just a new note 4/14  I found that after 2 years of use I needed to strip off the bubble wrap and put fresh on. It was mostly for looks to be cleaner as the bubble wrap still does a great job of keeping tub/shower much warmer.

Step 1: Step 1


In picture 2 you can see I bought clear tape and 1ft by 6ft rolls of bubble wrap from the Dollar Tree, (where everything is actually $1.00). I then found 2 wire coat hangers and unwound them to make a frame for the project.
I first rolled out two 6ft rolls side by side and taped down the middle. I actually bought 3 rolls, more on that later.

Step 2: Step 2

I placed a dark towel under the project so the camera would pick up more details of how I put it together. I formed the wire hangers in an "L" shape and taped them to the bubble wrap. It might be good to mention my window is 2 feet wide and 3 feet tall. This amount of bubble wrap works perfectly with NO WASTE.
I placed opposing wire hangers on both sides of the bubble wrap. when taped in place I folded the other half back over them to give me my 2x3 ft panel.

Step 3: Step 3

I proceeded to tape all the sides and ends with the clear packaging tape. P.S. you may find the tape yellows a bit, its a simple solution so do it over next year !!! :) In picture #6 you can see the semi finished project. the hanger wires give it some support so I dont need tape (which would not stay in place in the shower).

Step 4: Step 4

In pic #7 you will notice two more strips of 2x3 bubble wrap. I had purchased all 3 rolls not remembering the exact measurements of the window. I thought if I needed the 3rd roll to make it longer or wider I would have enough. Turns out I didnt need it for the purpose.

I took the two strips and essentially added a 3rd layer to the storm window. I proceeded to lay the pieces in place LEAVING APROX 5/8" Gap in the middle and then taping them to the existing panel. this not only gives some extra on the outer edges, but also leaves a gap where the center of the tape will adhere to the original window and be some structural support.

After taping the outer edges yet again. I was done! TIME TO TEST IT OUT. See picture #8 notice the density has increased over the last picture.

Step 5: Step 5

I removed all items from the sliding single pane window shelf. The next things was to put the storm window in place. I uses no adhesive. The clothes hanger wire allows for some tension and holds it 95% in place with some tucking here and there.
The following 3 pictures show the insertion and the finished product.

****** This bubble wrap window is the second one I have made. Turns out the last one did have yellow tape and some shampoo bulid up, but it lasted 2 years ****** not bad for nearly FREE!!!

If you have questions feel free to ask.

If you liked this Instructable you might enjoy https://www.instructables.com/id/Weather-Strip-a-window-on-the-cheap/
Here I show you how I weather strip a window for just PENNIES.. I MEAN CHEAP!!!!

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    57 Discussions

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    LoriR28

    2 years ago

    Would this work in doing the outer part of the window as well?

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    McAldo

    4 years ago on Introduction

    Useful instructable, thanks!

    I am about to insulating most windows with bubble wrap and I think I'll just go for spraying the glass with water rather than building a frame.

    But I have a front door which is a massive heat sink and, given I am renting I cannot do anything radical to it to insulate it more, so I might make an upsized version of your project for it and install it at night.

    Out of curiosity, have you ever considered bubble wrap or other materials to cut heat loss from the walls? Our master bedroom is, in line with a great English tradition, the only room of the house with three outward facing walls. So it's of course the coldest room in the house by several degrees.

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    kc8hpsMcAldo

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for your post I too am renting so I'm in a similar situation to yourself.

    Speaking of walls cold I have a sliding glass door that is rather large and what I've done is I went to the thrift store and bought a whole bed quilts and actually put two of them back to back and put insulation in between the two and sewed them and then hung them in the window and they work rather well. The building I am in is brick so the top of the sliding glass door has a steel bar or I-beam that goes across to hold the brick. I use rather large magnets to hold the bed quilt to the steel frame on top as a way of securing them to the window those eliminating the need for a frame.

    In the past I hope also purchased a piece of 2 x 2 Pine and used an old quilt and made something similar to a banner and hung it on the bedroom wall and created inside insulation with it, making just basically a wall hanging at the head of the bed. I'm sorry for what appears to be a run on sentences I am using voice to text on my iPad. I'm sure a piece of one and a half inch PVC pipe would also support an old quilt on the wall you could even make a frame with that fairly inexpensive thus making a portable from place to place. I hope this is of some assistance.

    Bryan

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    McAldokc8hps

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the advice Bryan, I'll give it a go and see how much the temperature changes!

    Aldo

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    Question: I have plants on my front porch & decided to try the wrap this year on those windows....will the plants still get the needed sunshine thru the wrap??? THX

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    kc8hpskaren.fuessel

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi Karen,

    I'm not sure but honestly I myself would try it. The chance of light is good. The insulating factor should be fair with the bubble wrap as long as the temps dont dive to deep. The biggest protection should be in the area of freeze/frost damage.

    If you spray your window with a fine mist of water before applying bubble wrap it will hold on to the window while you tape.. Makes it easier.. and will nearly suction it to the window for a better seal..

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    kc8hps

    4 years ago

    After 2 years I took it down rebuilt it and have used it now 4 years. I will redo it again this fall. No telling how much money and heat this has saved but I'm sure its a ton ! Not mention the room is much warmer as well.

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    kc8hps

    6 years ago on Introduction

    It has been about one year since I have done much with this instructable.

    UPDATE.. I have found the tape in a shower setting typically lasts one season. I think the time to remake it is well worth it..
    The cost is still in the area of $2.50-$3.00 to do the project. If you are lucky enough to find free bubble wrap you can likely do a window for under a $1.

    I have saved a ton of heat and a lot of discomfort from cold air while trying to take a shower. I also believe it has helped the shower pipes in the wall near by not to freeze and break.

    Funny the apartment complex has a sign as you drive in the driveway.. :"leave your bathroom faucet on trickle to prevent freeze up" I Think I have found a better solution.

    My instructable about weather sealing a sliding window is not so glamorous but still helps ALOT for very low money. Sorry the pictures on that one do not do it justice. :)

    Peace, Bryan

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    Judith756

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Check you local Craig's List for free bubble wrap. We have it on ours every week. I actually use the "pool noodles" bought at Dollar Tree for a buck for cheap pipe insulation. Have never had a problem. Just slice it in a spiral, "twist" it on and duct tape a couple of places. Has worked for 8 winters here on my outdoor faucets.
    Thanks for the ible.

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    kc8hpsJudith756

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    HI Judith,

    I'm sorry I didn't see your post for so many months. YES I will check out craigslist for bubble wrap. IM about to do another version of the bubble wrap storm window. IT worked so well that I want to try and improve it a bit more.

    Pool Noodles. I have seen those and have been dreaming of ways to use them. One I thought of was to use them on the edge of coffee tables, head boards so that they dont mar the wall if accidently bumped. I know that sounds over board but it might work.

    Those noodles I would think would work great as pipe insulation. Actually as I recall they are a bit thicker if I am not mistaken.
    Nice to hear from you.

    Bryan

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    unreal_ed

    7 years ago on Introduction

    How important is it to cover the window completely?

    I've taped it over most of the window but it does not quite cover the edges of the glass (nor does the tape run the length of the wrap's edges). I've also not necessarily taped all the strips of bubble-wrap together along their lengths (I'm doing a lot of windows...)

    Your talk of eddy currents is making me worried that not completely covering the glass will make the whole installation pointless. Is this a legitimate/reasonable concern?

    3 replies
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    kc8hpsunreal_ed

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I would strongly suggest covering all edges, bubble wrap or glass. the idea is to seal the edges so that internal air can not move much.. this reduces the transfer of heat molecules from the inside of the room to the outside much slower. If you have gaps you are correct that it is pointless in a way.

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    unreal_edkc8hps

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for answering!

    Also, what if the bubble-wrap does not COMPLETELY cover the whole surface of the window (but almost all of it) but it's is properly sealed along the edges? Is that better, or also pointless?

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    tomas.savage

    7 years ago on Introduction

    nice. i usually use the specific window insulation made by 3M (clear plastic sheet, two sided tape and hair dryer), but this will probably work better.

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    kc8hpstomas.savage

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    HI Tomas,

    I have also used the 3M clear plastic sheet. I steered away from it due to tape in the wet shower conditions.

    Keep in mind the bubble wrap keeps eddy currents in the air gap from moving due to temperature differences as heat molecules transfer places. if you can keep the eddy's under control you have greater insulation R values.

    According to one of my professors an air gap of 3-4 inches or less makes this happen (keeping eddy's under control) this a double pane glass or triple pane situation.

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    tomas.savagekc8hps

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    good info thanks. i have a different problem though, maybe you'll have an idea. i have 3 windows that are nothing but a screen and a swing-away glass pane that close flush with the wall. with the window closed, there is about 3-inches of space between the glass and screen.

    a crude 'visual'
    [outside] [screen] [3 inches] [window-pane flush with wall] [indoors]

    do you think this will work if i place it right up against the screen?

    [outside] [screen] [bubblewrap insulation] [2 inches] [window-pane flush with wall] [indoors]

    being from michigan, you already know what kind of weather we get out here. i don't know if the bubblewrap can last exposed like that.