How to Winterize Windows with Plastic

Beth Asaff
plastic window sheets

As the cold weather comes closer, and drafts begin to creep around window panes, you may wonder how to winterize windows with plastic to stop this heat loss. Winterizing your windows with plastic is one of the most inexpensive ways to stop heat loss and lower your heat bill this winter.

When Windows Need to Be Winterized

You may wonder if your windows need to be winterized at all, and what benefit this will have on your heating bill this winter. Just as each home is different, the results may differ as well. Newer windows with two panes of glass meant to trap air between them may have fewer drafts than older window panes. To check if your windows will truly benefit from winterizing with plastic, take the following steps:

  1. Inspect the windows in good daylight; look for moving drapes that could indicate a draft coming through the windows. Press on the window panes themselves and check for movement; look for cracks at the edges of each pane.
  2. Wait until a heavy wind is blowing and feel around the edges of the window. Check to see if you are able to feel the wind.
  3. Turn the heat on in your home on a cold day. After the house is warm, walk to a window and place your hand within a few inches of the pane to check for a temperature change or drop in air temperature near your window.

Any of the above are signs that your windows will benefit from being winterized in plastic.

What Winterizing in Plastic Means

There are many ways you can winterize your home. Heavy thermal drapes over windows, removable storm windows and plastic sheeting are all ways to stop heat sinks at doors and windows. Of the three options, plastic sheeting is the least expensive and most temporary option available.

To winterize your windows in plastic, you need to place a heavy plastic sheet over your windows, taping it tightly to the walls or sill, and use heat to tighten the plastic to a smooth finish. The end result is a window without gaps or drafts, which still allows sunlight to enter and warm the room.

Winterizing Windows with Plastic

Winterizing your windows with plastic is best accomplished with two people. You should be able to winterize all the windows in your home within a few hours. Before beginning, measure your windows and gather the following supplies:

  • Window caulk
  • Caulk gun
  • Weather stripping
  • Plastic sheeting sized to your windows
  • Heavy-duty double sided tape
  • Hair dryer

To begin, stop any drafts that are coming in with weather stripping and caulk.

  1. Peel the backing off of the weather stripping and use it to seal the edges of the windows. Press it firmly along the edge of the glass and sill.
  2. Locate any loose window panes and have your assistant push them until the gap between the pane and its edge is visible. Apply a thin bead of caulk into these cracks and allow the window pane to settle back into place.
  3. Place a row of double sided tape at the top of the window approximately 1 inch in from the glass.
  4. Stretch the plastic across the top of the window tightly, pressing it onto the tape.
  5. Run a line of tape down the sides of the windowsill, 1 inch from the glass, and a final row of tape across the bottom edge.
  6. Pull the plastic down firmly, smoothing it onto the tape on the sides and across the bottom to seal.
  7. Turn the hair dryer on high heat, and aim it at the plastic to shrink it. Move the hair dryer back and forth in across the plastic continuously until the plastic shrinks to a form a tight sheet across your window with no wrinkles or creases. Avoid placing the hair dryer too close to the plastic or you may burn through.

Learning how to winterize windows with plastic can save you a lot of money each winter on your heating bill. While the plastic is not the most attractive winterizing option available, it will keep your home warm and free of drafts for less money than replacement windows will cost.

How to Winterize Windows with Plastic