Here’s a cheap, quick project you can do to cut your heating bills, no matter where you live: Seal your windows with plastic film.
According to the National Resources Defense Council, a smooth third of the heat loss in your home occurs through the windows, so anything you can do to prevent that is money in your pocket.
In the late ’70s, Mom stapled sheets of Frost-King plastic over the windows to seal out drafts. It wasn’t a bad approach, but somewhere along the line — maybe in the late ’80s or early ’90s? — somebody came along with a product that was a bit easier to work with, looked nicer and didn’t require the use of staples or tacks to install. This new product was a kind of thin, crystal-clear shrinkwrap you attached to the molding around the window with double-sided tape and then heated with a hairdryer to smooth it out and make it virtually invisible. The plastic film was thinner than the old stuff, but it also made a tighter seal, thanks to the tape around the edges.
Plastic film will run you $2 or less per window at most hardware stores, and it’s fairly quick and easy to install. It comes with instructions, but for all us visual learners, here’s a photo tutorial:
By the way, that strange texture on my window panes is bubble wrap, which I installed last year, and which doubles the R-value of the glass. I posted instructions for bubble-wrapping your windows last November. A year later, all my bubble wrap is still up except for a couple of pieces Walter swiped off the window behind the couch, which I replaced before I installed the clear film the other night. (Cats, apparently, love playing with bubble wrap as much as humans do.)
After I put up the film, I installed one of my falsa-blanket shades over the window. With basically three layers of insulation sealing out the cold, I hope to see our gas bills drop quite a bit this winter.