Athlyn Green is interested in common-sense approaches to health, quality of life, and planning for the future.
Bubble Wrap . . . Really?
You may have heard of using bubble wrap on your windows and wondered what all the fuss was about. Is this is a new craze or a practical, workable idea to keep cold out and warmth in?
Using bubble wrap on your windows is the easiest method, by far, to reduce heat loss and lower heating bills (and if you've ever used one of those indoor temperature sensors that you aim at the walls and windows, you will know how the temperature drops rapidly when the device is aimed at windows). Windows, in fact, can be one of the biggest sources of heat loss.
With this method, there is no taping, no blow-drying, no thin plastic drying out after a season or two and splitting, and no replacing of expensive window kits. This method is fast, easy, and hassle free, and your cut sheets can be applied to windows within seconds. The pre-cut sheets can be used for repeated applications.
If this idea appeals to you, read on for tips and tricks. By the time you finish reading this article, you will have all the information you need to cover your windows with bubble wrap.
Materials for Bubble-Wrapping Windows
- roll/rolls of large-bubbled wrap
- spray mister
Where to Get Bubble Wrap
Rolls can be purchased at Walmart and other home hardware-type outlets. An online search will help you to see what is available. It pays to compare prices before you buy. If you can find a local outfit, you will save on shipping costs.
If you have to order online, plan to meet the minimum order threshold to save on shipping costs.
Bubble-Wrap Buying Tips
Measure carefully before buying. Measure the average width of your windows and keep this in mind when ordering rolls of bubble wrap. If a roll is too narrow, the wrap won't cover your window panes. Far better to order wider rather than narrower. You can cut down on cutting and avoid having to piece sheets together by ensuring the wrap you are ordering is wide enough.
Order wrap that has large bubbles in it. Large bubbles create a protective layer while still letting in light.
Think twice before ordering perforated wrap. Some rolls come with perforated sections that can easily be torn off the roll, which makes working with panels even easier. But if you order perforated, make sure you know the length (height) of each piece. Buying rolls that are perforated for easy separation of panels may seem like a good idea, but most rolls separate at lengths of every 12". Unless your windows aren't very tall, this is undesirable. The whole idea of using bubble wrap is ease-of-use and not having to tape, so why have to cut extra pieces or have to piece together or tape together panels that aren't long enough?
A Word About Bubble-Wrap Sizing
Bubble wrap on the roll is available in different widths 12"–24" and different lengths, usually from 125' to 175.' In some cases, you may be able to find or order wrap in 250'–350' lengths, but it may be harder to find these in larger widths than 12." Decide on what best fits your needs before you order.
While some prefer to use pieces of used wrap, it is recommended to use new wrap to get the best insulation value.
How Effective Is Bubble Wrap?
The bubbles in bubble wrap serve as multiple insulating pockets filled with air. Some sources claim that on a single-pane window, bubble wrap can reduce heat loss by up to 50%. On a double window, heat loss is estimated to be cut at around 20%. No benefit is believed to be derived by using it on triple-pane windows.
Whatever the actual insulating value, bubble wrap does help to keep rooms warmer. Those who use it notice a real difference.
Did You Know?
Once you have all your pieces cut, you can use them from year-to-year.
Cutting Tips for Bubble Wrap
Depending on your needs, you may opt for non-perforated bubble wrap because you need to cover taller windows. If so, use a pair of sharp scissors (sharpen them, if necessary, before you begin cutting, to reduce tearing) to cut panels to fit.
- If some of your windows are the same size, you can use the first piece you cut as a guide by placing it over top of the long sheet and then cutting across pieces to the same length.
- When you apply sheets to windows for the first time, trimming an edge isn't problematic and can be done in seconds.
Sheets of bubble wrap are sturdier than the standard thin plastic in the window kits. Because the wrap has more stiffness, it is much easier to work with and cut than thin plastic that sticks together and sticks to you because of static.
How to Apply Bubble Wrap to Windows
Now for the fun part. You will need a spray mister.
- Set your mister nozzle to fine and spray your window.
- Lightly spray the bubbled side of your cut panel. Start on the outer edges, then spray over center area. Make sure entire surface is covered in mist.
- Place the bubble wrap over the window and line it up at the top and align the straight edge along one side of the window. Gently, using your palms, press the bubble wrap to the pane, and ensure it is stuck all the way down. You do not need to exert pressure. Doing so might result in bubbles bursting. If you need to move the panel over a tad, gently pull and pat it into place.
That's it. The wrap will easily stick to your window and you can go on to the next sheet and the next window. It really doesn't get much easier than this.
Watch the Video to See How Easy It Is to Apply Bubble Wrap to a Window
Help! I Don't Have a Spray Bottle.
Can I still use bubble wrap?
An Alternate Method of Applying Bubble Wrap to Windows
You can still stick bubble wrap to your windows, even if you don't have a spray bottle or if the one you are using breaks (as happened to me).
- Wipe over windows with a damp cloth.
- Run the bubble side of your wrap under your tap, ensuring that outer edges and all other areas are covered with water.
- Tilt and shake pieces of wrap over sink to get rid of excess water.
- Apply panels to windows.
Removing Bubble Wrap From Windows
When your heating season is over, it's a simple matter to remove bubble wrap from your windows. Start in a corner and pull each sheet off. The sheets come off easily and there is no sticky tape to deal with.
Storing Cut Pieces for Use in Future Years
Stacks sheets of wrap in a closet where they will be undisturbed until the next heating season.
Pros and Cons of Insulating With Bubble Wrap
In the section below, we'll discuss some of the pros and cons of using bubble wrap to insulate windows.
- Bubble wrap is effective in preventing heat loss/cold seeping into rooms.
- Reduces heating costs because of better heat retention.
- Lets light into rooms in the dark winter months.
- Is an easy method to effortlessly cover windows in record time.
- Can be purchased in good-sized rolls.
- Visibility is reduced because you aren't using clear plastic to cover your windows, so if you enjoy looking outside, you might opt to leave some windows clear.
Caution: Remove Wrap Yearly
As seen in the video below, leaving bubble wrap on windows can lead to degrading of the plastic. It is better to remove the panels in spring for use in future years. Of course, this also allows you to enjoy the views from your windows in warmer weather!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can I use bubble wrap to stop the heat from seeping in around an AC?
Answer: Using plastic on the outside of the windows in summer might not be ideal, as plastic will not fare well in direct sunlight, and might break or tear in dry summer winds.
© 2017 Athlyn Green
ed stipp on November 29, 2018:
what if you have small pane windows ?
Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on January 17, 2018:
Hi Debora, that is great to hear.
Yes, it is the easiest method by far.
DEBORA SNODGRASS on January 17, 2018:
Doing this today, tryed yesterday, worked perfect i have about 60 squares
Wuk-Hee Hong on January 11, 2018:
Years ago Koreans developed this window insulation idea more and made a special bubble wrap product named “window insulation bubble wrap.” It has been so popular in Korea and saved a lot of money particularly during cold winter. Fortunately, now you can get this amazing bubble wrap from Amazon. On Amazon, simple try "window insulation bubble wrap Korean style." It costs only 84.95$ for 39.4“ X 100ft and includes a free water sprayer. Remember this bubble wrap film is reusable and anybody can install it without tools.