Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bubble Wrap as Window Insulation - Who Knew?

Surfing the Web and Facebook gives me so many great ideas I want to try! While wasting spending quality time on Facebook this morning, I came across a post about using Bubble Wrap as window insulation. Yes, Bubble Wrap like you wrap the stuff you ship in. I was instantly intrigued. I let my fingers do the Googling and I found the original blog post (from 2007) about this technique that the person on Facebook failed to give credit to (yes, that is a pet peeve of mine. Don't take other folks work and say it is yours. Shame, shame). Here is the original post:

The original author has taken the time to update and modify his post over the years, showing the benefits and potential problems. I suggest you go read it and all the feedback/questions he has gotten for implementing this cost saving and most brilliant idea. When I lived in a basement apartment with old, leaky windows, I would staple thick vinyl I purchased at Sprawlmart over the outside of the windows to form what was essentially a storm window. It really kept the drafts out by preventing the wind from passing into the structure before I tried to block it. So that got me to thinking about combining the two. Could you combine the Bubble Wrap inside with the thick vinyl on the outside to create a better insulated window when the weather turns really cold?

In my minds eye I began to picture what that just might look like. For the vinyl storm windows I can make a wooden frame that I staple or nail the vinyl to. Then I can secure the frame over the windows on the outside of my tiny house. That will add a layer of dead air space an inch or two deep. Adding some foam gasket around the frame will help seal it off even better. Painting the frames to match my windows and attaching hardware to make them easy to take on and off will complete them.

Next I can add the Bubble Wrap to the inside of the window. This is where today's post comes in handy. According to the original author all you have to do is cut the Bubble Wrap to the size of the glass, spray the glass with water, and stick the wrap on bubble-side down. Please go to the post to get a better idea of how to pull this off and how to address potential problems. This roughly doubles the insulating properties of the glass (which by the way is next to zero) from an R1 to R2. However, combined with the vinyl on the outside of the windows, I think it will increase quite significantly. Considering I will be installing new double-pane glass with argon gas, I think I will keep warmer than in that old apartment, but windows still are a weak point in the insulation of a home, so it can't hurt to plan for those really cold periods.

The positive part of this idea is that light will still filter in and the Bubble Wrap will provide a modicum of privacy from the outside world via distortion. This means I don't have to have heavy drapes or thick shades to keep warm, but a light filtering, inexpensive, and reusable form of insulation. If I label the wrap and storm windows before storing, I will know which windows the they go on for the next year. I can roll the wrap up and or store it flat, or I can use it for packaging material and recycle new Bubble Wrap the next year.

I should point out that I don't plan to cover every window this way. I will just cover ones that tend to get buffeted by the wind, seem exceptionally leaky, are fixed windows (don't open) or don't get any sunlight. I still want to be able to open certain windows, like ones in my kitchen (in case of burning something) and in the bath (to vent steam). Also, for personal safety, I will not cover a window that prevents me from seeing who is on my front porch. I think I will cover my skylight as well.

Planning for a cold winter this year might be a good idea for you, dear reader. I hear the Farmer's Almanac predicts a bitter and long winter for a good part of the northern hemisphere.

Remember: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. -- Benjamin Franklin


  1. Oh My!!!! Bubble Wrap as window insulation??
    That is awesome!! I'm going to definitely read that posting that you provided because now you have me really curious! Who would have ever imagined that bubble wrap would actually work but I love it!!! Thanks for sharing this cool idea with us today!! Wow!!
    Healthy blessings

    1. I was as surprised as you! Who knew and why didn't I think of that?

  2. Bubble wrap I would even seen it was pipes being wrap in it. For things like protection, insulation and other uses.
    I like the first picture sort of looks like snow flakes.

    Coffee is on

  3. What fun - I wonder if it would work as an addition to attic insulation - since we also have huge cold winds and storms! Great and fun post :)

  4. That is a fun and simple idea to implement! I like your thought of using both the thick vinyl storm windows AND bubble wrap on some windows.