Can Bubble Wrap Save You a Bucket of Money? - Sol Green Energy

Self-Sustainability tip complements of Sol Green Energy. Home of the best solar charger for backpacking.

Bubble Wrap is an Amazing Insulator

Photo by Jill Wellington

Few things in life have a two-month payback; switching to LED lightbulbs
and bubble wrapping your windows are among them.

Yes, I said bubble wrapping your windows. Our technique combines with other known cost-saving tricks. Altogether this is a 1-2-3 punch to the gut of energy waste.  If you have drafty windows and try this trick you will immediately see savings on your bill.

Get three layers of added protection:

1. Thermal Curtains: Work so good you’ll want them everywhere.
2. Window Shrink Wrap: Proven effective, cheap, and easy to install.
3. Bubble Wrap: The tiny pockets in bubble wrap are like sticking an insulative blanket on your windows.

When combined, these three steps dramatically decrease draft and radiant heat loss.
To put a finer point on it, you’ll spend less money on utilities while making your home or apartment much cozier.

 

 

In order to do-it-yourself you will need:

1. Thermal blinds
2. Curtain Rods
3. Bubble Wrap
4. Shrink Film Kit
5. Scissors
6. Permanent Marker
7. A Squirt Bottle
8. Hair Dryer

How To Do it:

1. Cut the bubble wrap so that you can fill the window area. Mist the window with the spray bottle and stick the bubble wrap on the window, bubble-side against the pane. It stays up, like magic! Repeat to cover the entire surface of your window.

2. Measure the shrink wrap plastic and cut to the size of the window; set aside.

3. Tape around the edges of the window frame. Be careful because just about anything will stick to the tape, including itself! Once this gets messed up it’s an exercise in futility and you have to replace that strip.

4. Peel the tape backing and carefully apply the shrink wrap.

5. Turn on your hairdryer. I use low heat with medium airspeed and get really close to the plastic film, without actually touching it. You can watch as the plastic tightens, transforming the wrap into an additional window pane. This is one time you can let yourself be OCD and smooth out the surface, but be careful because you could melt a hole in the wrap if you spend too long on one spot. Don’t ask me how I know this.

6. If they aren’t there already, put up the window rods and hang your curtains.

Repeat steps 1-6 for all the windows in a room one at a time.

Voila! You’re a genius with two thumbs that’s about to save a lot of money this year!

Why it works:

The shrink wrap creates dead air in-between your window panes. Then the bubble wrap provides more dead air, diffuses light (reducing radiation), and cuts down on conduction by acting as a blanket at the same time.  Finally, the thermal curtains act like a bouncer keeping any remaining heat loss at bay.

Interested in the science behind it?

Heat is transferred in three ways:

Conduction
Convection
Radiation

Conduction is when two surfaces of different temperatures touch. Since you’re adding three barriers, in particular the insulation of the thermal curtains, this cuts the conduction way down.

Radiation is perhaps the most interesting. Heat is light. Being able to see out a window means that all the energy stored in the thermal radiation spectrum just departs from your warm abode to heat up the great outdoors. Not good. The thermal side of the curtains also helps reduce this source of loss a lot too.

Convection is the most effective way to transfer heat. An air fryer warms up your dinner better because heat is uniformly distributed around the chicken (or tofu) while cooled air gets cycled away. Similarly, drafty windows transfer your expensive heated air outside to melt some snow while allowing cold air to back-pressure its way inside. Cutting out airflow means stopping this gremlin from stealing your hard-earned utility dollars.

Conclusion:

A drafty window is almost as bad as not having a window at all. Bubble wrapping windows is easy. It takes a little adjusting to the lighting effect, but it’s totally worth it. We usually leave our favorite windows free of bubble wrap (but still layer with shrink-wrap) just so we can see the snow from time to time.  Bottom line: this is an awesome way to save money on your heating bill using a few low-cost items and a little time.

We hope this helps, the video should say it all. You’ll save money, fuel, and be more comfortable all winter long. Best of all, in just two months you’ll have saved enough money to buy a SunCharger!