Winter is approaching and I have heard that some people insulate glass windows and balcony doors during winter to preserve heat. What materials can I use to do this? I am living in a rented apartment, so I would like to have something which I can easily remove, when it is not needed.


You can build a 2"x2" frame that's 1/2" smaller than the inside window opening, apply shrink insulation film to that and then use 3/8-1/2" foam backer rod to hold it in place in the window opening during winter.

This makes a shrink-film internal storm window that's easily removed and if you're careful, just needs a touch-up with the heat gun next winter to re-tauten the insulation film. The backer rod is usually a better product than rubber foam insulation tape for sealing around the outside of this storm window as the backer rod isn't quite so likely to bond to latex paint and saves you from the double-sided tape mess that's involved by applying to the window frame to hold the insulation film.

We used these for years till I broke down and did a rip'n replace on the single pane aluminum frame condensation/draft magnets misnamed "Window" that were originally installed.


Insulated drapes could be a solution that would not spoil the view and be decorative at the same time. Not knowing your location try a home decorating center. There are quilted shades that roll up above the door and seal to a track that is applied to the door casing. Look locally for a business that deals in window treatments or quilted shades.

  • Heavy drapes and quilted shades are bulky and look dated and often block more light than you'd like. They do provide the best added insulation. We've gone with the pleated blinds in which the pleats form long hollow cells that insulate some. They take little room when opened, look sort of contemporary, and are not horribly expensive. They pass a fair amount of light but have blackout options for bedrooms.
    – bcworkz
    Nov 18 '12 at 0:46

The cheapest solution will probably be to fit some insulation film. You fix this with double sided sticky tape and then use heat (from a hair-dryer) to shrink the film so it becomes taut. There are two disadvantages to this:

  1. It's not re-usable, you can't reapply it the next year.
  2. The stick tape is hard to remove.

A more permanent solution would be to buy a sheet of polycarbonate cut to the size of the window frame and fix that with either screws or magnetic tape to the frame. This European company - 365 Plastics sells complete systems. If you can't find a company closer to you at least you'll know what to buy from other places.

The main drawback with this approach is finding somewhere to store the sheets over the summer.

You could also look at using insulation strips in the window and door frames to seal any gaps.

  • Point 1, you say it's not replaceable but you can reuse it?
    – Rob
    Nov 17 '12 at 14:00
  • @Rob - That's what I meant - you can't reuse it. I made a hash of that point completely.
    – ChrisF
    Nov 17 '12 at 21:25
  • The plastic sheeting is shockingly effective. It creates an effective 3-6" air barrier and completely seals up all gaps in the windows. And it's relatively cheap. Try this first--basically every renter here in Boston uses it, and for a reason. Dec 1 '12 at 2:26

If you're not concerned about letting light through (in my neck of the woods it's dark when you leave for work and dark when you come home), you could also pick up some sheets of foam board rigid insulation and cut them to fit inside your window cavities.

These most commonly come in 4'x8' sheets and many different materials (in order from best insulation value/most expensive to least insulation value/least expensive) Polyisocyanurate (Poly-Iso), Extruded Polystyrene (XPS), Expanded Polystyrene (EPS), etc. For some more details - http://www.homeconstructionimprovement.com/foam-board-insulation-values/.

Most of them have a bit of flex to them so you'd be able to get them to fit fairly tight. Some also come with foil facings which can help direct heat.

This product from R-Max is very good - http://www.rmax.com/wall-thermasheath3.asp

My father-in-law uses this on his windows every winter to keep things warmer.

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