9 Helpful Ways to Insulate Your Windows for Winter

Kyle Schurman
Written by Kyle Schurman
Updated June 1, 2022
A child looks at snow outside window
Photo: E+ / Getty Images

Avoid chilly drafts with these handy window-insulating techniques

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If your idea of a perfect winter day is sipping cocoa in front of your favorite picture window while watching the snow flutter to the ground, only one thing can ruin it—drafty windows. 

If there’s an icy breeze constantly seeping through your windows, it’s time for action. Use these nine tips to insulate your windows to avoid air leaks and cold drafts.

1. Caulk the Exterior Window Areas

If your window is allowing cold air into your home, the first course of action is to inspect the caulk between the glass and window frames on the window’s exterior. If the caulk is curling, pulling away from the window, or missing, you should plan to add more caulk to insulate the window. 

Remove any damaged caulk, and then wipe away any dust or grime from the area where you will apply the caulk. Apply new caulk explicitly made for exterior surfaces between the frame and the home’s siding.

2. Apply Caulk to Interior Window Areas

Typically, caulk on the interior portion of the window doesn’t need replacing as often

as exterior caulk because it doesn’t have weather exposure. However, in some cases, it may need replacing around the panes, along the sill, or the trim. 

Use clear caulk or select a color to match the woodwork. Similar to exterior caulking, you should remove old caulk and clean any debris before adding new caulk. Remember to avoid adding caulk to the seams where the window frame opens, or you’ll caulk the window shut.

3. Add Weather Stripping to Block Any Gaps

Weatherstripping a window
Photo: iStock / Getty Images

Weather stripping works like caulk, blocking gaps between the glass pane and the frame where chilly air could seep indoors. However, weather stripping is a less permanent solution than caulk, and it doesn’t blend in as easily with your window. But weather stripping does have the advantage of being affordable and easy to install, so it’s a viable option for insulating a window.

Inspect your weather stripping for signs of damage or loose areas. If the weather stripping around your windows needs replacing, remember to remove dust and grime before adding weather stripping to ensure good adhesion.

4. Add Window Insulation Film

Although some homeowners debate whether window insulation film is effective, it offers some benefits for older windows with single-pane glass. The plastic window film cuts down on cold air entering from the outside while keeping the warm air in your home from leaking outward through the glass. Keep in mind that some people dislike the aesthetic of using window insulation film, especially since you’ll be looking at it all winter. 

5. Use Bubble Wrap in a Pinch

If you receive packages protected with bubble wrap—and if you can wrestle it away from the kids before they pop all of the bubbles—you can use the bubble wrap for a quick and easy solution to stop window drafts. 

Granted, it won’t look aesthetically pleasing and you won’t be able to see out of the window. That’s why many homeowners use this solution if they’re in a pinch or waiting to install a more permanent solution. However, securing bubble wrap with masking tape over the interior face of a window works surprisingly well to insulate windows and prevent heat loss.

6. Create a DIY Draft Stopper

For the quickest and least-permanent solution to drafty windows, place a draft stopper along the window sill where cold drafts may be entering. While this idea isn’t a long-term fix, you can create a DIY draft stopper using household goods. However, the stopper doesn’t work if the air leak is originating around the window glass or anywhere along the frame other than the sill.

7. Install Storm Windows

Although few people use storm windows in modern homes, they are still an option for winterizing windows. If your house has single-pane glass windows, they may be able to work with a storm window, which is an extra piece of framed glass that snaps into place on the interior or exterior of the current window. Adding storm windows is an expensive fix, with an average cost of $8,200, plus you have to match the type of storm window to your window for a perfect fit.

8. Repair Any Broken Glass

Broken glass in your windows will affect the ability to keep cold drafts out of your home. The cost for window repair typically averages from $40 to $100 for fixing a cracked pane and from $200 to $500 for replacing window glass. Replacing cracked glass also provides an aesthetic benefit, making it worth the investment during any season.

9. Add Window Treatments

When aiming to insulate a window, you can also use interior design to your advantage. For instance, you can add window treatments like thermal curtains, which are thick, cozy, and help to keep cold air from getting into your home. You can also opt for energy-efficient window treatments like cellular shades to keep your home comfy all year long.

When choosing new window treatments, do your research before making a purchase so you can get the look you want while also increasing your window’s insulation.

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