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Tightwad Window Insulation
Old 09-22-2007, 06:02 PM   #1
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Tightwad Window Insulation

DD's room, since she left for college, is hardly used, so I thought I'd try this trick: Bubble Wrap Window Insulation.
BubbleWrapInsulation.jpg
To attach it, just mist the window with water, and apply it bubble side to the window. It will stay forever.

Actually, that window has an energy efficient shade, but I've never been able to use it, since the high humidity around here causes lots of condensation if the shade is closed.

I'll see whether I can avoid this with the bubble wrap (available free at recycling center).
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Old 09-22-2007, 06:38 PM   #2
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That's pretty neat, and looks a lot better from the outside than the old aluminum foil standby, plus it lets a good amount of light in.

In the past I've used the temporary kits that come with a very clear plastic sheet that you stick to the window frame with double-sided tape, then shrink the plastic using a blow dryer. It worked well enough, was nearly clear, \and was easy to apply, but the cost of the stuff (5-7 bucks for a regular-sized window) added up, especially as the fix was only good for about a year. The bubble-wrap is tcheaper, offers some privacy, and probably just about as energy efficient.
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Old 09-22-2007, 06:39 PM   #3
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TA: Wouldn't be much more effective if you attached it to the outside of the window frame, providing about a 3-4 inch air-gap between the glass and the bubble wrap? That may or may not help the moisture problem. For that problem a box of Baking Soda (or a product called "Damp Rid") on the window sill between the glass and bubble wrap should solve that problem. Of course now we are adding costs.
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Old 09-22-2007, 11:49 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Bubble Wrap Window Insulation.
The heat-reflective insulation we buy at home-improvement centers is bubble wrap sandwiched between a layer of white plastic film and another layer of aluminum foil.

You put the white film on the side you want to stay hot and the aluminum foil on the side you want to stay cold. So in your daughter's room you'd have the aluminum on the outside and the white on the inside, although this seems backward from my Hawaii perspective...

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DD's room, since she left for college
Hey, waitaminnit, isn't that supposed to read "The Beaver's Den" or "T-Al's Man-Cave and Ultimate Media/Computer Center" or "Spouse's Dream Sewing Room"?!?
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Old 09-23-2007, 12:40 AM   #5
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Far out!

When I was in college, we covered the windows with Saran Wrap. (With little effect. Old houses leak heat from more than single-pane windows. We had breezes blowing around the casings.)
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Old 09-23-2007, 10:16 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by R Wood View Post
TA: Wouldn't be much more effective if you attached it to the outside of the window frame, providing about a 3-4 inch air-gap between the glass and the bubble wrap? That may or may not help the moisture problem. For that problem a box of Baking Soda (or a product called "Damp Rid") on the window sill between the glass and bubble wrap should solve that problem. Of course now we are adding costs.
The condensation problem here is an order of magnitude worse than people in ordinary climates can imagine. We have humidity over 80% all the time.

If I close the blinds overnight, I'll have about a quarter of a cup of water on the sill the next morning.
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Old 09-05-2009, 09:51 AM   #7
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So it's been about 2 years now Al, so how's that bubble wrap working out long term?

I was looking at insulating our bedroom window which is huge compared to the size of the bedroom and it's the coolest room in winter. I was looking at ways to insulate it and came across this:

BubbleWrap

Then I thought I remembered you writing something about this (good memory, eh?) and found this thread.

So what say you about the bubble wrap insulation. Shall I go get some or seek another method?
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Old 09-05-2009, 03:01 PM   #8
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Good searching.

I still think it's a good idea, but I have to admit that I took it down in the summer and never got around to putting it up again.

It was indeed quite easy to put up, and it didn't fall down by itself. I might do it again for this winter.
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Old 10-07-2009, 05:52 AM   #9
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Update on my bubble wrap project.

I works too good, so I've had to remove it.

With outside temps hovering just above freezing yet cozy and warm inside, there is a ton of moisture that builds up between the glass and the bubble wrap and it all drips down (between the bubbles) onto the window sills and mold was starting to grow around the windows due to so much moisture. Even the outside of the bubble wrap is covered in moisture each day and needs to be wiped dry with a towel.

I'm no thermal expert, but I'm guessing all that moisture between the bubble wrap and glass means it was working, but that caused bigger problems with water, water everywhere.
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Old 10-07-2009, 06:09 AM   #10
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Glad you posted this. I was thinking at this bubble wrap approach myself when I first started reading this thread.
Some of my casement windows have very thin gaps at the bottom between the window wood frame and the room wall. House is 1977 vintage, so maybe the house settled and the window opening shifted. I've been using strip foam with sticky backing to seal the gap.
Window faces south, so my guess is moisture would be maximum if I used bubble wrap. Temperature outside can range from average 30F to below zero. Inside house temp is usually 68. This room gets very warm on those rare winter sunny days.
I have thought of using small wool throw blankets thumbtacked around the windows for insulation, but then it would be too dark in the rooms. Can't win...
Any ideas for northern latitudes are welcome.
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Old 10-07-2009, 08:09 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Trek View Post
With outside temps hovering just above freezing yet cozy and warm inside, there is a ton of moisture that builds up between the glass and the bubble wrap and it all drips down (between the bubbles) onto the window sills and mold was starting to grow around the windows due to so much moisture. Even the outside of the bubble wrap is covered in moisture each day and needs to be wiped dry with a towel.
Did the windows "sweat" last year without the bubble wrap (or do they still sweat now with it removed)? If there's a cold surface and moisture-laden warmer air, then there's going to be a condensation problem with or without the bubble wrap. I guess the wrap could make it worse if it provides yet another cold surface (the plastic) on which condensation can occur (it sounds like this is happening--on both sides of the plastic.) If there is sweating on the side of the plastic toward the room (plastic that is surely warmer than the window glass), I'm surprised all your windows aren't sweating in the same way. Just checking--was the window tightly closed? Leaving it open a little would have produced the exact effect you noticed.

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freebird5825 wrote:
I have thought of using small wool throw blankets thumbtacked around the windows for insulation, but then it would be too dark in the rooms. Can't win...
Any ideas for northern latitudes are welcome.
Some folks make tight-fitting window covers out of 1" expanded polystyrene foam (EPS, the kind made up of little white beads, not the smooth extruded kind). It is cheap. The foam does let in some light, but it might not be enough for you. I don't know if moisture is a problem with this approach. The key would be preventing air movement from the room to the cold window glass, so these covers would have to fit tightly and it would probably also be good to use some of that foam rubber weatherstripping you've already got to form a gasket around the edges. This kind of EPS foam does allow water vapor to pass through it to some degree (unlike the bubble wrap plastic), so it might have less of a tendency to form a high humidity envelope between the foam and the window. If you go this route, be sure to check frequently to see if there's any dripping going on back there. I'd also be a lot more comfortable doing this on windows that don't face south--the heat buildup could be considerable in a south-facing applcation, possibly enough to crack the glass or cause other problems due to the high difference in temps between the inside and the outside. If it DOES crack the glass, at least you'll have a good excuse for replacing the leaky casement windows and getting some nice double-paned insulated frame windows while the tax rebate is still in effect. The vinyl ones aren't too pricey, and you'll notice the difference immediately.
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Old 10-07-2009, 08:57 AM   #12
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With outside temps hovering just above freezing yet cozy and warm inside, there is a ton of moisture that builds up between the glass and the bubble wrap and it all drips down
That's funny, that didn't happen for me, yet that is exactly the reason I can never close my expensive duo-fold tightly fitting window shades. But you have more extreme temperatures.

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If there's a cold surface and moisture-laden warmer air, then there's going to be a condensation problem with or without the bubble wrap.
That's true. However, with the bubble wrap or tight-fitting shades, you get no air flow, and so the condensation doesn't evaporate. Normally, as the air is cooled by the window and slides down, the air movement aids evaporation. It's this air movement cycle that cools off the room, so you can't win.

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I have thought of using small wool throw blankets thumbtacked around the windows for insulation, but then it would be too dark in the rooms. Can't win...
Why not have some nice cozy CFLs going all the time? Our living room is a little dark, and I've considered adding a window or skylight. But it's cheaper to have some lights on all the time, so I turn on the ceiling lights in the AM and leave them on all day (even though it's against my religion).
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Old 10-07-2009, 09:23 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by freebird5825 View Post
Glad you posted this. I was thinking at this bubble wrap approach myself when I first started reading this thread.
Some of my casement windows have very thin gaps at the bottom between the window wood frame and the room wall. House is 1977 vintage, so maybe the house settled and the window opening shifted. I've been using strip foam with sticky backing to seal the gap.
Window faces south, so my guess is moisture would be maximum if I used bubble wrap. Temperature outside can range from average 30F to below zero. Inside house temp is usually 68. This room gets very warm on those rare winter sunny days.
I have thought of using small wool throw blankets thumbtacked around the windows for insulation, but then it would be too dark in the rooms. Can't win...
Any ideas for northern latitudes are welcome.
Has anyone tried installing the bubble wrap on the outside of the window? This may give you the insulating benefits without the moisture problems.
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Old 10-07-2009, 10:00 AM   #14
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Here's a page with several links to window insulation and other energy conservation ideas.



Home Energy Conservation
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Old 10-07-2009, 12:49 PM   #15
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... you'll have a good excuse for replacing the leaky casement windows and getting some nice double-paned insulated frame windows while the tax rebate is still in effect. The vinyl ones aren't too pricey, and you'll notice the difference immediately.
I was under the impression that casements were more efficient (though new of any style are probably better than old leaky ones)? Casements have one less seal than other types.

At least in the Anderson line:

Casement Windows - Renewal by Andersen - Replacement Casement Windows, Crank Out Windows

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Casement replacement windows are our most energy-efficient, ventilating window style.
We have a few casements and sliders. What I really like about these is that when you open them a crack, you get ventilation from top to bottom (within ~ 1' of the ceiling). Hard to know how much this helps, but it is giving you more airflow at the top to release hot air in the room. Most of our double-hung windows are maybe 3' from the floor - open them a crack and the hot air at the top of the room doesn't seem to move much.

-ERD50
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Old 10-07-2009, 02:07 PM   #16
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I was under the impression that casements were more efficient (though new of any style are probably better than old leaky ones)? Casements have one less seal than other types.
True. Casements can be made tighter than single- or double-hung windows or sliders. I think the main thing is not so much the number of seals or the length of them, but the use of a compression gasket on casements vs a friction seal on the others.

I guess I was just thinking back to the very leaky aluminum-framed single pane casement windows we had in our house when we moved in. They were actually top of the line in the late 50's when the house was built, but they were leaky, drafty, cold monsters. We replaced them with mid-quality double paned vinyl sliders and the difference s amazing.
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Old 10-07-2009, 02:49 PM   #17
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Here's a page with several links to window insulation and other energy conservation ideas.



Home Energy Conservation
Geese Hankster!

The amount of project ideas from this web site is amazing.

Thanks,

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Old 10-07-2009, 03:00 PM   #18
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Did the windows "sweat" last year without the bubble wrap (or do they still sweat now with it removed)?
They sweat a bit normally, but just a touch of condensation near the bottom. Not a waterfall like with the bubble wrap. Our windows are heavy duty double glazed made for arctic conditions windows that seal shut tight, so no air leakage. Don't really need the extra insulation, but I thought it would be an interesting experiment over the winter to see how much it would help, if at all.

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However, with the bubble wrap or tight-fitting shades, you get no air flow, and so the condensation doesn't evaporate. Normally, as the air is cooled by the window and slides down, the air movement aids evaporation.
I agree this lack of evaporation opportunity was the problem.
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Old 10-07-2009, 07:43 PM   #19
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Why not have some nice cozy CFLs going all the time? Our living room is a little dark, and I've considered adding a window or skylight. But it's cheaper to have some lights on all the time, so I turn on the ceiling lights in the AM and leave them on all day (even though it's against my religion).
I'm reading all of this and getting an education.
Interesting idea. Skylight is not an option - too much snow and ice pack on the roof in the winter. If my roof were steeper or was metal covered, I could go that route.
A huge factor here is the prevailing lack of sunlight (translated cloudiness almost every day = gloomy as h*ll = cabin fever) between now and sometime next summer, in July perhaps. Additional indoor lighting will help to overcome the seasonal absence of daily direct sunlight factor.
I believe my solution will have to be a semi transparent and definitely a breathable non-plastic material.
I may take a trip to the fabric store and look at those new moisture wicking fabrics that active sportwear is being made from these days. Or find a very thin nap white wool. I see the need to balance avoiding extreme temperature differentials as noted in another post, with minimal light attenuation, with thermal insulation properties.
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