Alternative to Putting Plastic on Windows

If you thought isolating your windows with plastic was the most affordable way to face the cold winter season, you would be happy to know there are other options available with a similar price range. What’s more, cheaper options will provide you with the same results as plastic.

Jill Wellington

In areas where the winter temperatures are cruel, isolating every window in the house is paramount. It’ll help you keep the warmth in your house and reduce the cost of your electric bills. When the time comes, there are important things to consider:

  • The level of isolation you’re aiming for
  • If you’re looking for a permanent or removable solution
  • If it requires installation
  • Your budget

Top Alternative to Putting Plastic on Windows

Putting plastic on your house’s windows may seem like the easiest and most affordable way to leave the cold out. However, after digging a little into the subject I’ve found several alternatives. Some might be a little pricier, but don’t discard them just yet, because I’ve found they are more effective.

In the end, that little extra cash you invest in your windows isolation will be reimbursed with lower electric bills.

After extensive research on materials, costs, and installation process, I’ve come up with a list of top alternatives to isolate your windows for the winter. Let’s take a closer look at them:

Rope Caulk

As simple as it sounds, rope caulk is an affordable solution to prevent any air leaks through your windows. With this isolation system, you won’t have to depend on the heat so much, lowering your electricity expenses.

The best part is that you can do the installation yourself, adding it to the areas of your window you deem necessary.  This option is also perfect if you aren’t looking for something permanent. Whenever you want you can remove them, without leaving any marks on your windows frame.

Cellular Shades

Cellular shades can be used in your home instead of regular curtains. Due to their honeycomb cells, they have proven to greatly impact window isolation. One thing about these kinds of shades is that they come in different colors, which makes them a perfect and decorative addition to any house.

You can also add both, cellular shades and curtains, and make use of the shades when the winter season is close. Keep in mind that this option will be more expensive than using just cellular shades.

They are also a little pricier than any other option. The average cost of cellular shades is $170 per window*. Considering that they can also serve as curtains and will add to the general ambiance of the house, it may be an option you want to consider.

Weather Stripping

This is one of the most popular methods to isolate your windows and one of the most affordable ones. They come in a wide variety of lengths, widths, and colors making it easier for you to find one that will be barely noticeable.

Choosing the right weather stripping may need further investigation, as they come in different materials. Among the most popular ones, you’ll find weather stripping made of foam, felt, and vinyl. While all of them will be effective in isolating any air leak, my research revealed that the ones made of vinyl are more durable.

As for the installation, it’s again an easy task that will not require the services of a professional. Most of the strips are adhesive-backed, but you can also nail them in place to secure them further.

Magnetic window insulation

This is an interesting alternative I had no idea about before doing my research. Using magnetic tape, or magnetic paint on the trims of your window, you can attach an insulating vinyl that would perfectly fit the frame.

Although this is inexpensive, you can lower the cost even further if you’re a handy person.  Many online tutorials will guide you step-by-step in the process of creating your own isolation panels along with the installation process.

A good thing about this alternative is that it’s removable. Whenever you need to open your windows, you can just take them off, and back on later.

Thermal curtains

Curtains are a popular decoration and a perfect addition of elegance and warmth to any room. As they come in different colors, patterns, and styles, you’ll definitely find one that will look perfect in your house and match the rest of your furniture.


One thing I didn’t know about curtains is that there is a thermal version of them. They look similar to any other curtain, but these are made of extra layers of fabric, which makes them extra thick.

Thermal curtains have been proven to reduce the cold and hot air from entering a room through the window’s leaks. However, keep in mind that from all the options in this article, this is the least effective in reducing the cost of your electric bills.

On the plus side, they are an isolation method that’s equally effective during the summer heat. The impact on your electric expenses will be less significant, but at the same time will help you save all year round.

Plastic and the Summer

While I’ve dedicated this article to looking for alternatives to putting plastic on windows, I’ll admit that it’s an effective way to keep the cold out. But what about the summer? I’m sure you’re wondering if the alternatives that work during the winter to keep the cold out, have the same effect as the summer heat.

Unfortunately, some of the most popular options that will help you reduce the cost of your electric bills during the winter, will not be as effective in the summer. For instance, plastic and magnetic window insulation won’t work. Here are methods that will be effective all year around:

  • Weather Stripping
  • Cellular Shades
  • Thermal curtains

As mentioned above, cellular shades and thermal curtains will require a higher investment but will serve as decoration as well as an isolation system. On the other hand, weather stripping is an affordable and equally effective method that will be barely noticeable once installed.

Winter Savings

It’ll take in some cases just a small investment to install an isolation system in your windows, and the savings on your electric bills will be something you’ll be grateful for. While some options are more affordable, you may want to consider the more effective ones, which can be kept all year round.

Leave us in the comment section which method you’ve been using so far, and which one you’re going to try next winter.

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