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Old 01-08-12, 07:48 PM   #1
AC_Hacker
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Default Does bubble-wrap work for insulating windows?

Does bubble-wrap work for insulating windows?

For $15, I bought a roll of 24" wide roll of bubble wrap, enough for three or four windows (I only wanted to do the lower windows).


On a single glass window with no storm window, it makes a big difference!

I also tried it on single-glass with storm and next on Argon-filled double low-E windows, on each one , the difference was less than the previous test. The difference on double-glass, Argon-filled double low-E window was almost too low to read.

Take-away:
  • If you have single-glass windows, bubble-wrap can certainly help. At $15 for several windows, it is tremendous bang for the buck.
  • If you have single-glass with storms it will help a little.
  • If you spent $300 on Argon filled double low-E, don't bother to invest $15 to cover your Argon-filled windows with bubble wrap.

-AC_Hacker

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Old 01-08-12, 08:40 PM   #2
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From everything I have read it works very well.
I would suggest asking friends and/or going to most any store and getting the wrap for free.
To clarify that last line.
Ask for the wrap they received in packages sent to them.
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Old 01-09-12, 07:21 PM   #3
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Hi AC,
I had a go at measuring the performance of bubble wrap on our double glazed low e windows back in 2005:
BubbleWrapPerformance

The results looked pretty good -- better than I would have expected by just saying the the bubble wrap adds about R1 to what is already there. Not sure if this is a flaw in the technique I used, or just that the bubble wrap did a bit better than expected.

Based on the double glazed low-e having an R value of about 3 (U of 0.33) and the bubble wrap adding R1, you would expect about a 25% drop in heat loss by adding the bubble wrap.
But, the measurements I took came out at about a 45% reduction in heat loss.

Anyone have a better way of measuring the actual performance?
I now have an IR thermal camera, which would make getting overall window temps easier.
It would be nice to know what the real number is.

Gary
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Old 01-09-12, 10:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryGary View Post
Based on the double glazed low-e having an R value of about 3 (U of 0.33) and the bubble wrap adding R1, you would expect about a 25% drop in heat loss by adding the bubble wrap.
But, the measurements I took came out at about a 45% reduction in heat loss.
I could have saved myself so much trouble and expense if I hadn't put in 3 layers of 2 inch XPS in the walls (R-30 for 6"), carefully sealed at every layer.

Instead, I should have wrapped my kitchen in bubble wrap.

What a fool I was!

-AC_Hacker
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Old 01-10-12, 03:29 PM   #5
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I think you should have just run the 6 inch R30 right over the windows

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Old 01-10-12, 03:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryGary View Post
I think you should have just run the 6 inch R30 right over the windows

Gary
The view was not so magnificent, anyway!

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Old 01-11-12, 10:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryGary View Post
I think you should have just run the 6 inch R30 right over the windows

Gary
*Puts flame suit on* I'm actually considering this, removing the wood blinds(which are dark and pull a ton of heat in) and attaching some drapery to the insulation, gasketing the edge and shoving a 2" sheet of XPS against the glass on the inside. Granted it isn't the outside but its also going to be on the front of the house so I'd like it to look somewhat normal. I'm thinking blocking the light will do more than the R10 will but it should amount to a roughly R12 window assembly that kicks the crap out of the performance of low-E gas. Would this work as well as I think it would?
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Old 01-17-13, 05:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AC_Hacker View Post
I could have saved myself so much trouble and expense if I hadn't put in 3 layers of 2 inch XPS in the walls (R-30 for 6"), carefully sealed at every layer.

Instead, I should have wrapped my kitchen in bubble wrap.

What a fool I was!

-AC_Hacker
wrap the outside of the house and watch the nieghbors looks on their faces
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Old 01-17-13, 04:20 PM   #9
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Too bad we can't test this idea with Argon filled bubble wrap
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Old 11-26-13, 12:09 PM   #10
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I just wrote a quick blog on this because its so easy and cheap to do and I think more people should consider it.

One question I did have though. It looks like AC_Hacker used the bubble wrap with smaller bubbles while the pictures on Gary's site look like he used the bubble wrap with larger bubbles. I'm wondering if the larger bubbles would be superior to the smaller ones? It also seems like AC_Hacker used two layers of bubble wrap versus Gary just using one. Anyway, things to consider and compare.
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