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My Simple DIY Window Insulation Guide for Winter Prep

Have you ever had foggy or failed windows? We did at the cabin – like twenty eight foggy and poorly insulated windows to be exact. So, needless to say I needed an affordable DIY window insulation solution to get our cabin in tip top shape before the rains returned while we still can this summer. 

DIY window insulation cabin
Six of the 28 windows that we had to insulate at the cabin

Sure, winter isn’t exactly right around the corner, but you have to plan ahead. I’ve learned this over the years. It’s best to get prepared ahead of time, rather than scrambling at the last minute. Besides, everything takes longer than you expect and is more expensive if you try to do seasonal repairs like gutter guards, roofing or otherwise during the season.

Jens Lindner CQ1BNRYjVJo Unsplash

I loved our quick DIY window insulation technique we used before reglazing our windows to increase energy efficiency – which is a high priority for many homeowners, but especially true for us. It’s hard to make the most of your energy when you’re dealing with drafty cold air and constant heat loss. Our first winter was freezing! In many situations, replacing the window can solve the problem – but if you can’t afford that quite yet,I got the short-term wallet friendly solution for you.

DIY window insulation

Whether you’re looking for a way to improve your current window insulation or simply trying to avoid an inevitable replacement, I’m sure you’ll find these tips helpful. Let’s get started!

The Simple Prep Process


Most projects require some sort of prep, and DIY window insulation is no different. However, you really don’t need to do much ahead of time. Simply cleaning the area is enough, but you’ll want to move the drapes and anything else that might get in the way. This includes art, and your favorite hanging plants.

I recommend starting by measuring your window’s frame and sill. Once you have these measurements in hand, you can dampen a cloth with warm water and soap. Use this to clean the area, and you might as well clean the glass windows while you’re at it.
Using a dedicated glass cleaner is always a good option.  I like to use Windex inside and out.

DIY Window Insulation – See-Through Solutions

window frame

There are many different ways you can do DIY window insulation. I figured I’d start with the see-through solutions first. After all, you paid for the windows; you might as well be able to see through them!

That said, these options tend to be a bit more permanent. As such, I wouldn’t recommend them if you’re planning on getting new windows or a new window frame within the next year. Still, they’re good to know about, as these methods can help minimize heat loss from your new glass units as well. I re-caulked and restored all the frames in my windows.

These solutions are great because they’ll work on nearly any window. Whether you’re dealing with a drafty bathroom window or need better insulation in your living room, I can practically guarantee you that these see-through options will offer the perfect solution.

Consider Caulking

caulking for DIY window insulation

Liudmila Chernetska / Getty Images

Arguably the best DIY window insulation solution is caulking. It’s extremely effective at eliminating cold drafts from any gaps around your window/window frame, making it ideal for drafty windows. This option does require a bit of extra prep work, though, as you’ll need to remove the old caulk before you can apply the new caulk.

Gabriel Tenan KU6xGAcd7jQ Unsplash

Removing the old caulking isn’t very hard. First, use a caulk remover to soften the caulking. Then, simply use a utility knife to cut into the old caulking before stripping it away from the surface. 

Once all the old caulking has been removed, you can grab your new caulk and a caulking gun.Apply the caulk evenly between the window frame, siding, and inside of any gaps you can see. Leave the caulk to cure overnight, and you’re all done!

Place Draft Stoppers

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Need insulation but don’t have the time to replace your old caulking? If so, then draft stoppers might be the DIY window insulation solution for you. This method isn’t quite as effective on larger gaps, but it is a great way to eliminate drafts from small gaps. Trust me, your heating and cooling system will thank you.

Drafter stoppers are offered in a variety of sizes. Since you already measured your window frame, you just need to find a stopper that’s sized correctly for your window(s). If you’re having issues with door-related drafts as well, pick up a few door bottoms while you’re at it.

The obvious advantage of using draft stoppers is that they are easy to “install”. Just put it in place and you’re done. No prep work, glue, or additional steps are required. However, each door stopper can only block drafts in one spot. If you have a lot of different draft spots then this may not be the best solution.

Use Weather Stripping

Try weather strips DIY window insulation
Photo via 4eldco

Weatherstripping isn’t quite as good as applying caulking, but it is slightly similar, (you can do both) relatively permanent, and doesn’t require any specialized tools. All you’ll need to install weather stripping is the stripping itself and some scissors to cut the strips to length.

Precision is key here, though. Weather stripping is offered in a variety of different thicknesses. For maximum effect, it’s important to purchase stripping with the correct thickness. Measure the gaps before purchasing to ensure you buy the right size(s).

Once you have the stripping and have cleaned the surface, you simply pull the adhesive covering off the back of the strips. Place the strips around the entire window frame, pushing down to ensure good adhesion.

This method works perfectly for windows that you aren’t quite ready to replace just yet. It’s affordable, easy to do, and only requires a quick trip to your local hardware store. Best of all, it’s semi-permanent! If you’re not quite ready to try caulking yet then this is definitely the next best thing.

It might be tempting to stick with your older windows, rather than replacing them. Still, you could be losing out on some serious energy savings if your window glass has cracks in it. If the glass itself is damaged then I would strongly recommend replacing the glass, rather than trying these solutions.

DIY Window Insulation – When Visibility Isn’t A Concern

Mari Madriz FRsmwVdIBOg Unsplash

Alright, so the DIY window insulation options I’ve gone over so far are great if you’re looking for a method that won’t obstruct your window’s view. However, not every window needs perfect visibility. If you’re willing to sacrifice the views a bit then you have a few more options available to you.

All of these will require a quick trip to a store like Home Depot, and you might want to check out my post on home decor tips to help make the visual impact of these methods less noticeable. Still, if your glass panes and you just want to fight the cold weather, these could be great options.

Give Bubble Wrap a Go

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Photo via How to go Solar

Some methods require tape, which can make cleanup after removal a hassle. Fortunately, bubble wrap offers improved insulation without the need for adhesive tape. It’s arguably the quickest way to insulate your window, aside from draft stoppers.

First things first – get your hands on some bubble wrap. It needs to be ever so slightly smaller than the size of your window glass. If you can’t find the exact size you need, just use scissors to cut your wrap down to size.

Next, grab a spray bottle, fill it with water, and spray a thin layer of water on the window glass. Then, face the bubble side of the wrap towards the window and press the wrap in place. That’s all you need to do!

Now, I know that this solution can be a bit unsightly. It also obstructs your outside view. Still, if you have a room that just needs to be tightened up on the cheap then this is a great solution. Think an attic for example.

Bubble wrap insulation is made of one or two layers of foil with encapsulated air bubbles pressed in between the layers. It is a radiant barrier, which means it has the ability to reduce radiant heat, keeping your home, office, pole barn or warehouse cool and fresh in summer and comfortably warm in winter.

As such, I recommend checking out my wall decor to help the area look pretty, and opting for wrap with larger bubbles for increased visibility.

Install Insulation Film

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If you don’t mind having to remove adhesive later on then picking up an insulation film kit could be a good idea. Plus they are more aesthetically pleasing and great in bathrooms where some privacy is ideal. This method is a bit more in-depth than using bubble wrap, but it could be more effective, making it worth trying out.

To get started, you’ll need to pick up some window film, some double-sided tape, and some scissors. You can also just purchase a dedicated kit, although some may require you to own a hair dryer for shrinking the film.You can even get cool stained glass designs on Amazon if your decor calls for it.

Essentially, all you need to do is apply the plastic film to your window, then use scissors to cut off any excess around the edges. The film offers much more visibility than bubble wrap does, which is a major bonus. Still, it is noticeable, so use some well-placed wall art to make the film less noticeable.

Try Thermal Curtains

Thermal curtains make great DIY window insulation

The last option I have for you today is thermal curtains. I wouldn’t recommend these if your window currently has gaps. However, if your windows are already insulated and still seem to let cold air in then thermal curtains are exactly what you need.

These thick curtains are made to keep cold air out and warm air in. Unlike many other options, they aren’t entirely unsightly. You’ll have a decent amount of color options to choose from as well, meaning you’ll easily be able to match your new curtains to your favorite houseplants and other surroundings.

The only real requirement for these is that you’ll need to have curtain rods pre-installed above the top of the window sill. If not, installing these rods is fairly easy, so no worries there.

Pro tip: pick up a floor rug to help keep your feet warm on those cold mornings!

That’s All You Need to Know About Simple DIY Window Insulation!

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I’m sure most of you were familiar with at least some of these methods, but did you learn any new ones? Hopefully, these tips will help you prevent drafts and lower those energy bills. No one wants to deal with sky-high utility bills, and—using these DIY window insulation methods—you won’t have to.

Like I said, I know we’re not exactly in the winter season just yet. Still, I think getting prepped for winter ahead of time is best. As an added advantage, these methods can also help you keep warm air outside as well, which can definitely help improve your summer experience.
Anyway, thanks so much for reading! I hope you found these methods helpful. If you did, be sure to let me know which one(s) you tried in the comments below. Until next time, I love you guys.

Have a great week!

FAQs About DIY Window Insulation

Cabin Suite Builtin Windows

Is aluminum foil a good insulator for windows?

Sort of, but it’s definitely not the best way to do it. Aluminum foil is much better for storing a leftover snack. Still, being reflective, aluminum foil that’s placed inside of a window with the reflective side placed out can help reflect the heat that comes in. However, you’ll want to wrap the foil around pieces of cardboard. Without this step, any insulation effects will be minimal at best.

How to winterize windows from the inside?

The easiest way would be to pick up one of the many dedicated window insulation kits. However, if you want to do things yourself then I’d recommend redoing the caulking, installing window film, and placing thermal curtains.

How long does bubble wrap on windows keep cold out?

Despite being made of relatively thin plastic, a single layer of bubble wrap can provide five or more years of protection against the cold!

Can you use cling film to insulate windows?

Using cling film will work in a pinch, but—depending on the size of the inside of the window pane—-it might not be the best solution. Sizing issues will be your main obstacle. If feasible, I recommend just getting window film instead as this will be sized correctly and more resistant to tearing.

Which side of bubble wrap goes against the window?

You want the bubble side facing the window, as this places the pockets of air in between the room’s interior and the inside of your window.for maximum insulation.

Can you put bubble wrap on windows in summer?

You definitely can! It might not be the prettiest or the best insulation around, but bubble wrap will work to protect against both hot and cold temperatures from outside.

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