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I live in a rented apartment with aluminum window frames and double-pane windows. Now that it is heating season, I am noticing that my window frames are incredibly cold to the touch when it is cold outside. They appear to not have a thermal barrier, which is allowing them to conduct heat from inside to outside. The panes themselves are cool to the touch, but not nearly as cold as the frames, so it seems like most of the heat loss is occurring through the frames.

As a result of this heat conduction, parts of my apartment that are near windows (or my sliding glass door which also has aluminum frames) are much colder and more uncomfortable than parts of the apartment that are farther away from the windows.

I am trying to come up with a solution to fix this problem. I have done some online research, and come up with the following options:

  • Use a window insulating film kit, the kind that you adhere to the area around the window that provides an air barrier. Like https://www.energystar.gov/campaign/seal_insulate/plastic_over_windows. I would have to be sure to secure this to the wall area around the window, not the frame itself, because it seems like the heat loss is occurring mostly through the frame, not the pane.
  • Insulate just the frames of the windows by applying closed-cell foam tape to provide a thermal barrier. I assume I would apply the tape to the inside of the frames, because I don't have access to the outside (I live on the third floor).

I would like a solution that can easily be removed/cleaned up when I move out of the apartment, because I am not allowed to make any permanent modifications. I'm intrigued by the closed-cell foam tape on the frames solution, because I don't have a hairdryer to use for the window film solution and I would rather not film over all the windows in my apartment (they all have Venetian blinds on them and so I'd have to cut holes in the film to be able to operate the blinds). However, I am worried that the foam tape solution may leave a nasty residue of some kind on the window frames.

Will the foam tape solution work, or should I bite the bullet, buy a hairdryer, and go for the window film solution?

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    If you cut holes in the film, you just wasted all the time/labour/and money putting it up. Are the frames painted or plain aluminum? Cleaning plain is much easier.
    – crip659
    Nov 7, 2021 at 16:14
  • Frames are a mix of painted and bare. The parts of the frame that move with the glass (I don't know the technical term for this) are bare, but the parts of the frame that are secured to the wall are painted. Both parts are metal and both are cold to the touch. With regard to the holes, I guess the idea is that the hole is small enough that it doesn't let much air through, but I agree that holes don't seem great.
    – nathreed
    Nov 7, 2021 at 16:17
  • Anyway of asking the landlord to help? It should be part of maintenance, water condenses on cold surface and drips down, maybe ruining something.
    – crip659
    Nov 7, 2021 at 20:10
  • @crip659 I could file a maintenance request, but this complex has 250+ apartments all built this way (built in early 90s). I do not think they'd be very interested in helping specifically me. I'm trying to come up with a low-impact solution that I can do myself that will at least make the situation better (it doesn't need to be perfect, just better).
    – nathreed
    Nov 7, 2021 at 20:12
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    If you don't need to open the window for the cold season, cover it with a plastic window sheet. I guess your problem is the drift around the window frame, rather than the cold transmitted by the frame.
    – r13
    Nov 7, 2021 at 20:52

2 Answers 2

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Test a section first for ease of removal for everything used. Then try using a good quality painters tape as a pre base layer before applying the thermal tape. Always test first.

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  • The drawbacks to painter's tape in this application are 1) Even painter's tape will leave a gummy residue when it's been left on for a long time, and 2) Painter's tape is designed to come off easily - it could get pulled up and/or just fall off, taking the thermal tape with it.
    – FreeMan
    Jun 23, 2023 at 12:16
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use post it notes first on the frame. They come off easily and leave no residue even if applied for a long time. Since you will need a lot, make your own. Use any paper and this glue stick which makes the paper act like a Post-It. You might be able to apply directly to the foam tape and just not use the peal off and stock part of the tape: https://www.amazon.com/Scotch-Restickable-Stick-3-Pack-6307-3/dp/B00D32SO3W/ref=sr_1_6?crid=7GUT0ZUC4LF&keywords=post+it+note+glue&qid=1694699545&sprefix=post+it+note+glue%2Caps%2C116&sr=8-6

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