Last updated November 22, 2021 

Heating bills can be expensive, so the more you can do to keep your heat inside (and not escaping through drafty windows), the more budget-friendly (and energy-efficient) your home will be. Many DIY solutions cost $10 or less at your local hardware store, so spending a little pocket money and taking a few hours to plug up those drafts could save you hundreds once winter storms start raging.

What You’ll Need

The Basics

  • Scrub brush
  • Cleaning solution (e.g., dishwashing soap)
  • Weatherstripping product of your choice
  • Draft snake
  • Curtains

The Works

  • Caulk
  • Rope caulk
  • Plastic shrink film
  • Adhesive (e.g., double-sided tape)
  • Hair dryer
  • Insulated curtains

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How to Do It

Locate which windows are drafty, examine their problem spots (e.g., cracks, gaps, etc.), then decide which type of seal and/or insulation (caulk, weatherstripping, plastic shrink film, draft snake, etc.) would work best.

Winterizing Windows: Outside

Caulk

Scrape off any old caulk or peeling paint from the window frame, then clean off the frame with soapy water and a scrub brush. Wipe dry. Using exterior-grade caulk, apply a new, continuous line of caulk between the window frame and your home’s siding, ensuring there are no gaps.

Rope Caulk

Pull off the amount you need, then mold the rope to fit into the drafty area or window frame gaps. Press to seal.

Winterizing Windows: Inside

Draft Snakes

Purchase draft snakes (e.g., fabric tubes filled with cedar chips or similar material that block drafts) or make your own. Place on drafty window sills.

Foam Weatherstripping

Clean your window sashes to remove all dirt and grime. For double-hung windows, cut adhesive-backed foam weatherstripping to fit the size of your sashes, then apply to the bottom edge of the lower sash and the top edge of the upper sash. Alternatively, you can place weatherstripping on the sill directly below the lower sash and the head jamb over the upper sash. Close the window to seal and lock it. On casement or sliding windows, place the weatherstripping vertically along the side jamb or on the sash’s vertical edge.

Insulated Curtains

Measure your window sizes and purchase appropriately sized draft-blocking curtains. You can select regular curtains with heavy fabrics, layer up multiple thinner curtains, or go for specially designed insulating curtains constructed from thermal materials. Hang with a rod that supports the extra weight.

Plastic Shrink Film

Place over window and seal with double-sided tape. Heat with a hair dryer until sheeting has shrunk to fit and is taut over the window frame, sealing out any cold air.

Rubber Weatherstripping

Cut to fit your particular window, then peel off adhesive strip and cover the frame to seal any drafts.

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