Should You Put Plastic Over Your Windows in Winter?

As winter returns, you might start to notice that your windows are drafty and leaky, rattling at the slightest provocation. Not good! Why are they drafty? How can you fix this? Should you put plastic over your windows in winter?

Today, we’re discussing these common questions. As window pros, we’ll let you know why drafty windows are a problem and how to fix them.

Why Are Your Windows Drafty?

Windows can let in drafts for a number of reasons. This is a big problem in winter! Lack of proper insulation reduces your home’s energy efficiency—meaning alarmingly high heating bills for you.

Why are your windows letting in drafts? Here are the most common reasons:

#1 Your windows are old.

Normal wear and tear can, over time, result in drafty windows—sooner if the windows are single-pane.

Everyday use can eventually wear away the weatherstripping around your windows, resulting in gaps that let in air. Also, even if you don’t use your window that often, time can affect the window frame. For example, wooden frames can warp over time, resulting in drafts.

#2 Your windows are low quality.

Inexpensive windows are more trouble than they’re worth. Low-quality wood and cheap vinyl frames, for example, will expand in the heat and contract in the cold. In extreme temperatures in winter, that means you end up with windows that contract enough to let in cold air.

#3 Your windows were installed incorrectly.

While most drafty windows are old, even newer windows can become drafty if they were installed incorrectly. Improper installation can cause gaps around the frame or leaks in the seal. If this happens, your windows will get drafts long before their end of life.

#4 Your home has mold or water leaks.

Unnoticed and unaddressed mold or water issues near windows can even cause drafts: mold and moisture can eat away weatherstripping and rot away window frames, resulting in gaps and drafts.

Should You Put Plastic over Drafty Windows?

Will plastic fix your drafty windows? The answer is…yes and no.

Shrink-to-fit plastic wrap, according to the EPA, can help to reduce drafts and help the house feel warmer during the winter. If you extend the plastic over the woodwork, it can also reduce air leaks and reduce heat loss through the window.

Some homeowners opt for this DIY solution due to its accessibility. It can be helpful for those who are on a budget and comfortable with tricky DIY projects.

However, it should be noted that this solution is a temporary one, and it comes with a few drawbacks. First, it’s not always the most aesthetically pleasing of solutions. Second, insulating film must be airtight, or you could end up with moisture between the plastic and the window.

What are some other fixes for drafty windows?

How to Fix Drafty Windows

In addition to insulating film, you can consider other temporary solutions, like replacing weatherstripping, applying caulk to small cracks, and installing heavy curtains. You might also consider installing storm windows.

That said, the only permanent fix to drafty windows is window replacement. Old, warped single-pane windows or double-pane windows with broken seals are just not permanently fixable.

While window replacement can seem like an extreme solution, it often pays off in the long run. New, energy efficient windows reduce heating and cooling bills over time, off-setting their cost. (Plus, you don’t have to go through the trouble of winterizing them every year!)

Contact Jack’s Glass

If you’re considering storm windows or window replacement, we can help. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you figure out the best solution for your home.

Call us today to speak with one of our window experts!