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Cold Weather Window Solutions

Cold Weather Window Solutions

When it’s cold outside, you’ve got to keep the cold out there and the warmth in here. Weatherizing your windows is an excellent first step.

Stop the wind from blowing in and around your windows and frames by caulking and weather-stripping. After you’ve cut infiltration around the windows, the main challenge is to increase the insulating value of the window itself while continuing to admit solar radiation.

Here are some suggestions for weatherizing your existing windows in winter.


  • Install clear plastic barriers on the inside of windows
    Such barriers work by creating an insulating dead-air space inside the window. After caulking, this is the least expensive temporary option to cut window heat loss. Such barriers can cut heat loss by 25 to 40 percent.

  • Repair and weatherize exterior storm windows
    If you already own storm windows, just replace any broken glass, re-putty loose panes, install them each fall, and seal around the edges with rope caulk.

  • Add new exterior or interior storm windows
    Storm windows are more expensive than temporary plastic options, but have the advantages of permanence, reusability, and better performance. Storm windows cost about $7.50 to $12.50 per square foot, and can reduce heat loss by 25 to 50 percent, depending on how well they seal around the edges. Exterior storm windows will increase the temperature of the inside window by as much as 30 F on a cold day, keeping you more comfortable.

  • Install tight-fitting insulating shades
    See Window Quilts

  • The biggest news in window technology is low-e films for low-emissivity. These thin metal coatings allow the shortwave radiation of solar energy to pass in, but block most of the long-wave thermal energy tying to get back out.

  • Construct insulated pop-in panels or shutters
    Rigid insulation can be cut to fit snugly into window openings, and a lightweight, decorative fabric can be glued to the inside. Pop-in panels aren’t ideal, as they require storage whenever you want to look out the window, but they are cheap, simple, and highly effective. They are especially good for windows you wouldn’t mind covering for the duration of the winter. Make sure they fit tightly so moisture doesn’t enter the dead air space and condense on the window.

Read more: Home, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse

Excerpted from the Real Goods Solar Living Source Book, edited by Doug Pratt and executive editor John Schaeffer.Copyright (c) 1999, Real Goods. Reprinted by permsision of Chelsea Green Publishing Company and Real Goods.
Excerpted from Real Goods Solar Living Source Book,edited by Doug Pratt and executive editor John Schaeffer.

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on anniebbond.com, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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12 comments

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1:17PM PST on Jan 7, 2013

besides my stick-on draught excluder type things around the obvious holes around a window and the front door, i am considering a type of plastic sheeting you stick on over the glass which supposedly helps keep the heat in more as it reflects the heat back into the room. i don't know much about it as i'm not in a position to buy it yet as i have bigger works on the house [full kitchen and bathroom to do, then re landscape the garden] to look at, so research has been minimal. but if it works, then it could be investing in, after more research and a check on finances!

2:10PM PST on Dec 9, 2012

I've done the pop-in solution with insulation boards and it's effective but watch out for moisture. On sunny days be sure to remove the barriers for a while to let air circulate and clean the windows regularly.

2:13PM PDT on Apr 29, 2012

Thanks for the info.

7:47PM PDT on Sep 21, 2011

Thanks for the ideas.

11:32AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Great tips to keep in mind. Thanks Annie!

11:19AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

Great tips to keep in mind. Thanks Annie~

1:01AM PDT on Jul 16, 2011

Thanks for the article.

8:40AM PDT on Aug 9, 2010

great tips. Cotton Bedspreads Thanks you

5:25AM PDT on Jul 29, 2010

Thank you, this is interesting information.

10:18PM PST on Jan 30, 2010

Thanks for the tips Annie.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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