How do you fix drafty windows? In the late fall and winter, homes can feel extra chilly when cold air seeps through window cracks. Though replacing old windows with new, energy-efficient ones can improve your energy bills, the cost and time investment of this project are substantial. Fortunately, there are many ways to stop air leaks in older windows that don’t break the bank — and they are easy DIY jobs to boot.

How do you fix drafty windows without spending too much?

Sealing your windows from drafts is a cost-effective way to reduce energy waste while improving the comfort of your home. By blocking air from entering and leaving your house, you can stay cozy all year long without spending thousands of dollars on new windows.

When you’re on a budget, these easy fixes help you save money by reducing heat loss, making it easier for homeowners to save for a total window upgrade.

You can find many of these solutions in DIY window insulation kits at your local hardware store. They are effective on windows of all sizes and shapes, from single-pane windows, double-hung windows, to irregularly shaped custom windows!

Ready to make your home feel better this upcoming winter?

1. Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping is a convenient roll of material backed by an adhesive that you can apply to gaps and cracks in your window frame. It can be made of felt, foam, rope caulk, and other insulating materials that block air from coming in or out of the window. Installing this is incredibly easy since you just need to cut the material, rip off the adhesive backing, and stick the weatherstripping where you want it.

Whether you choose foam weatherstripping or another material, the method to apply it is the same: measure the length of the window frame, cut the weatherstripping to that length, then peel off the adhesive backing and apply the weatherstripping to the desired area.

2. Double-Sided Tape

If you’re really on a budget, the solution for you may be in your home office or junk drawer. Double-sided tape can also work at blocking drafts, though you may need to reapply it on occasion since the adhesive can wear out. However, this window seal solution can be barely noticeable if you use clear tape. Just be careful of it ripping off paint. It’s also not as insulating as foam weatherstripping, but it does do a good job of blocking drafts.

3. Shrink Film

Window drafts aren’t the only source of cold, but cold glass panes can cool the air inside your home too. Shrink wrap kits can give your old windows an extra insulating layer that minimizes heat transfer to the outside, assisting your energy-saving efforts. Shrink film window kits are readily available at most home improvement stores and just require scissors, measuring tape, and a hair dryer to seal the material onto the window.

  • Cheap alternative: Bubble wrap. No joke, this works just as well as shrink film, but you will have trouble getting a good view of the outdoors.

4. Window Caulk

If you have a bit of DIY know-how, then you can use one of the most cost-effective and insulating methods: caulk. This works just as well as adhesive foam insulation but cost dramatically less than an adhesive kit: we’re talking under $5 a tube. The trick is you need to know how to use a caulk gun and how to apply the material to windowsills and cracks to make it look good. There are plenty of techniques to smooth out the caulk after application- from using a putty knife to a gloved fingertip. Watch some DIY videos to see which method works the best for your skillset!

5. Clear Nail Polish

Nail polish, really? Yes, we’re serious. If you just have a few drafty holes here are there in your windowsill, then a few coats of clear nail polish can be an effective draft stopper. This is not ideal for windows with a lot of drafts, but it’s good for windows that have just a few cracks. Since nail polish shrinks when it dries, it can take a few coats to seal a crack for the winter.

6. Insulating Curtains

Window treatments can provide an extra layer of insulation beyond shrink wrap or bubble wrap. Thermal curtains and other insulating window coverings are typically inexpensive and available online and in department stores. They also provide some extra seasonal style to your home — a nice bonus to your reduced heating bills!

7. Storm Windows

This option is listed last since it’s the costliest of the bunch. Storm windows are an extra set of windows that you can install on the inside or outside of existing windows to increase energy efficiency. Exterior storm windows are more expensive, averaging $55 per square foot.

Interior storm windows are cheaper at $24 per square foot. If you want to reinforce existing windows economically, interior storm windows provide more value since they are better at creating a near-airtight seal compared to exterior varieties. They also last longer since they aren’t exposed to extreme weather and are easier to install.

Fix Drafty Windows & More

Which window-sealing method do you stand by? Though none of these are permanent solutions, they can improve the quality of your life and make more margin in your budget. If you decide you want a house with brand-new energy-efficient windows, why not explore buying a new construction home? Right now, it’s the option giving homebuyers the best bang for their buck!