Bubble Wrap Keeps You Warm by Jessica Hodges
Heating bills are expensive! It’s no joke. As much as I love saving energy and hate spending money on utility bills, I always have to crank the heat in the winter. (Except for living in NY because the heat is general free, building controlled, and your apartment turns into hot death.) I’ve thought about basements and garages and big houses and how they must be ridiculously expensive to heat. Enter bubble wrap.
The guys (or girls) over at Build it Solar have come up with a really easy method to insulate your windows. Just follow these simple instructions:
- Cut the bubble wrap to the size of the window pane with scissors.
- Spray a film of water on the window using a spray bottle.
- Apply the bubble wrap while the window is still wet and press it into place.
- The bubble side goes toward the glass.
- To remove the bubble wrap, just pull it off starting from a corner. You can save it and use it for several years. It does not leave a mess or stains on the window glass.
The hardest step is probably the first one but once that’s done it should be a really quick job. This seems perfect for that empty or half empty basement or garage or maybe those side rooms you might have – mud rooms, storage rooms, etc etc.
Here are the downsides: It will make your vision out of that window blurry.
Upsides: Keep the heat in (obviously) and you can reuse the bubble wrap year after year! (even up to 7 years they claim.)
I like this guy – he dresses just like my dad.
They included this crazy calculation about how you’re saving a lot of money at the end. Enjoy and good luck!
The bubble wrap has a short payback in cold climates. About 2 months for single glazed windows, and half a heating season for double glazed widows. Details on payback:
For an 7000 deg-day climate (northern US), and single glazed windows, the bubble wrap increases the R value from about R1 to about R2. This cuts the heat loss from the window in half.
Heat losses with and without bubble wrap for 1 sqft of window are:
Heat loss w/o wrap = (7000 deg-day)(1 ft^2) (24 hr/day) / (1 ft^2-F/BTU) = 168K BTU per season
Heat loss with wrap = (7000 deg-day)(1 ft^2) (24 hr/day) / (2 ft^2-F/BTU) = 88K BTU per season
If you are heating with natural gas at $1.50 per therm (100 CF) in an 80% efficient furnace, then the saving for 1 sqft of wrap for the season is:
Saving per sqft = ($1.50)(168K – 88K)/(100K*0.8) = $1.65 per season per sqft of window
The bubble wrap cost about $0.30 per sqft, so the payback period is about 2 months — not to bad!
If you repeat the numbers above for double glazed windows, the saving is $0.60 per sqft per season, and the payback period is a about one half heating season.
If you use a more expensive fuel like propane, fuel oil, or electricity, the savings will be correspondingly more.
[Thanks Build It Solar for this great project!]