Drafty Windows? Try These 12 Solutions for Every Budget

Stop those drafty windows from driving up your heating bill.

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Drafts got you down? As outside temperatures plummet, leaky windows can make the inside of your home feel downright frosty—to say nothing of costing you money as your hard-earned heating dollars fly right out the window. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, reducing drafts in a home can result in energy savings of between 5 and 30 percent per year, while also keeping your family snug and cozy.

There are many ways to cut your heating bill, ranging from installing simple weather stripping to entire window replacement. Ahead, we’ve assembled a list of solutions to fix those drafty windows that suit budgets both large and small.

Weather Sealing Tape

Clear weather sealing tape.
Photo: amazon.com

The first order of business is to locate the sources of drafts in your home. If you can feel a breeze or draft as you pass or hold your hand near a window, it’s time to address the problem. Other signs are fogged glass or condensation inside windows, between the panes. This means a seal is likely compromised and the windows are not insulating as they should. Finally, visible damage to weather stripping (interior or exterior) likely means chilly air is getting in.

If your energy bills have risen with no clear reason, it’s a good idea to check for window drafts using a matchstick or candle. Slowly move the flame around the window frame. If the flame bends or flickers at any point, use a small sticky note to mark the spot so you can come back and seal it with weather sealing tape.

Get 10 yards of 3M Transparent Weather Sealing Tape at Amazon for $7.99

RELATED: 20 New Uses for Old Candles

Draft Stopper

Draft stopper along door.
Photo: amazon.com

The bean bag sock snake is a classic solution for drafts, but you typically see it used on doors. We like the Home Intuition Draft Stopper because it works on windows, too, by blocking cold air creeping in through the crack between the sash and the sill.

The Draft Stopper is sized to fit windows up to 36 inches long. With its 4-inch thick size, fleece material, and polyester fill, it provides an ample barrier against Old Man Winter. The hanging loop is a nice touch, too, making it easy to stow on a doorknob or closet hook when it’s not in use.

Get the Home Intuition 3-Foot Draft Stopper at Amazon for $14.95

Storm Windows

Handyman installing storm window.
Photo: istockphoto.com

Though more of an investment than other solutions, storm windows, like the Larson aluminum storm windows, are the most effective way to stop drafts. Aluminum storm windows mount to the outside of the window casing, providing an additional insulating pane of glass that prevents cold air from infiltrating the home.

Adding storm windows to your existing windows costs more than most other solutions, and they are more difficult to install. The upside is that they can save you as much as 30 percent on heating and cooling costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Get Custom Storm Windows at Affordable Storm Windows, priced from $125.99

Window Insulation Kit

Person holding blow dryer to plastic on window.
Photo: amazon.com

Online and off, most home improvement stores stock plastic shrink film insulation kits. Like other similar products, the Duck Max Strength Window Insulation Kit comes with all you need to apply insulating film on three standard windows. The double-sided tape holds the film in place until the very end of the easy installation process, when you use a hair dryer to shrink the film onto the window to achieve an airtight seal.

Get the Duck MAX Strength Window Insulation Kit at Amazon for $8.49

Weather Stripping

Man applying weather stripping.
Photo: amazon.com

Repair, replace, or add weatherstripping around drafty windows and doors. Duck Brand Heavy-Duty Self-Adhesive Weatherstrip Seal works well, is inexpensive, and comes in various sizes. Plus, its rubber construction provides excellent draft protection.

That said, there are many types of weatherstripping worth considering—felt weatherstripping (sold in rolls), V-seal weatherstripping (sold in both plastic and spring-metal versions), and expanding spray foam weatherstripping (sold in aerosol cans).

Get Duck Brand Heavy-Duty Adhesive Weatherstrip Seal at Amazon for $6.99

Window Caulking

Hands using roll of caulking on window.
Photo: amazon.com

Window caulking serves as a first line of defense against cold air. Unfortunately, caulk degrades over time, inevitably developing small cracks and gaps that allow in cold air. Inspect your drafty windows, checking around the window frame for any signs of failure.

You can repair small openings with inexpensive, user-friendly rope caulk, such as this caulking cord that requires only your fingers to install. Larger openings, meanwhile, necessitate the complete removal and replacement of the original, no-longer-viable caulk.

Get a 45-foot Roll of Frost King Caulking Cord at Amazon for $6.05

Thermal Curtains

Black thermal curtains in home.
Photo: amazon.com

Seasonally swap out your lightweight curtains for heavier, insulation-boosting window treatments like draperies, layered curtains, honeycomb shades (which trap air between layers of fabric) or Roman shades. This set of thermal curtains uses three layers of fabric to provide insulation over the window (when curtains are closed, of course), helping to cut energy bills. They also accent any room’s decor.

Get the Deconovo Solid Thermal Insulated Curtains at Amazon for $10.19 per panel

Bubble Wrap

Rolls of silver bubble wrap.
Photo: amazon.com

In a pinch? It’s nothing more than a temporary solution, but if you need a fix and you need it now, consider using bubble wrap to seal a drafty window. Bubble wrap is sold by the roll. If you have some on hand already, simply cut it to size and use double-sided tape to keep the plastic in place. Standard bubble wrap is 24 inches wide and covers 350 square feet of window. Or use this insulating, reflective wrap, which comes in 2-foot wide, 10-foot long rolls and features a foil side that reflects heat.

Get the Double Bubble Reflective Foil Insulation at Amazon for $19.88

Clear Nail Polish on Window Cracks

Clear nail polish bottle.
Photo: amazon.com

Cracked window panes can allow cold air in and warm air out of your home, driving up your energy bill. While replacing that cracked pane should be a priority, try this short-term fix while you’re waiting for payday: Clear nail varnish, like this one from Sally Hansen, dries almost completely clear and will seal the crack and prevent the window from cracking further.

Get the Sally Hansen Top Coat Nail Polish at Amazon for $4.99

Honeycomb Shades

Honeycomb shades in living room.
Photo: amazon.com

Insulating curtains is one way to stop a draft, and cellular shades are another. The honeycomb design of these shades creates multiple air pockets that help to trap warm air in your home while preventing cold air from getting in. They come in multiple color options to suit different styles of decor, so they won’t detract from the room’s aesthetics. Cellular shades are most effective when the shades fit snugly inside the window casing.

Get the CHICOLOGY Cellular Shades at Amazon for $106.24

Insulate With Foam Board

Man installing foam board.
Photo: homedepot.com

While this method isn’t practical for windows in the living areas of the home, it’s a great solution for drafty basement windows. Purchase styrofoam board such as this R-5 sheathing and insulation from your local home improvement store. Cut both to the size of the window. Place the insulation inside the window casing followed by the styrofoam board. The board will hold the insulation in place, keeping cold air out.

Get the Owens Corning Foamular NGX foam board insulation (8 feet x 2 inches x 48 inches) at The Home Depot for $34.56

Replace the Windows

Open window near desk.
Photo: homedepot.com

Replacing your windows is an investment, but it could be worth it if worn out drafty windows are costing you hundreds of dollars or more in energy loss each year. Drafty windows can cause your energy bills to soar as much as 25 percent higher, according to Energy.gov. Replacing those windows with an Energy Star-rated model, such as the American Craftsman white vinyl window, will cut those costs. And though the upfront expense is pretty sizeable, you’ll eventually make that money back on your utility bill savings.

Get the American Craftsman vinyl window at The Home Depot for $189