Windows provide our homes with warmth and light, but they can also be the main weaknesses in the thermal efficiency of your house. If you want to improve energy efficiency, on a very limited budget, there are some very simple and inexpensive techniques that can help as a thermal insulator.

Bubble wrap a thermal insulator for windows

By applying ordinary packing material to your windows to keep them warm, such as bubble wrap, it is possible to cut utility bills by almost half . Homes with single glass windows, especially in cold climates, would experience the full effect of this simple heat loss prevention technique.

Believe it or not, up to 50% of the heat can be saved this way. It’s also easy and fun to install – literally a few minutes per window will be more than enough. Even for double-glazed windows, this insulating bubble wrap has some limited effect (up to 20% savings in heat loss), but using this additional technique on triple-glazed windows does not bring any measurable improvement.

The main reason for using this packaging material, rather than the typical commercially available thermal insulation, is that it is abundant. People throw away bubble wrap every day. You can find it in almost any product package, which is a great thing, because reusing and recycling things is our goal as well.

Plastic with less space between the bubbles generally performs better as it has more heat. So if you want maximum performance, try to find and select the parts with the biggest bubbles.

How does bubble wrap work?

After applying insulation to your window pane from the inside, tiny bubbles serve as a net for many insulating pockets filled with air. The only negative effect is that the view through the isolation window is a bit hazy, however it does let a lot of light in.

What factors are making bubble wrap a perfect choice as a thermal insulator for houses?

  • It is a good insulator due to its specific structure with small air pockets
  • It is made of plastic that can heat up very quickly
  • Cost effective – cheap or even free if recycled / reused
  • Easy to install, water is needed only sprayed
  • It can last on your windows for several years
  • Short payback period
  • It can be easily removed after the heating season, just peel it off from a corner and store until next year.
  • And last but not least, it does not leave stains and there is no sticky tape on the glass.

How to apply bubble wrap to windows

  1. Select large pieces of packaging material, preferably with oversized bubbles
  2. With scissors cut the bubble wrap sheet exactly to (or slightly smaller) than the size of the window glass
  3. Use an aerosol spray bottle, carefully spraying a thin film of water on the window glass
  4. Apply the bubble wrap insulation with the bubbly side directly onto the wet glass
  5. Press gently until you see a firm grip

After installing the bubbly insulation, you can sit back, relax, enjoy an artistic blurry view of the outside world, and watch your electricity bill go down. Lastly, just to mention that this is not the best possible window insulation, but it is very cheap, fun, and easy to deal with. We encourage you to use it at home and you will undoubtedly be surprised with the result.

Dr. Eric Jackson

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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