Testing Bubble Wrap for Insulating Windows

by Tim Fulton on November 26, 2013

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Do you have some windows that you just use for light, but never really look out of? These are a perfect fit for adding some additional insulation to. One such inexpensive method is using bubble wrap. It still lets light through and is cheap and easy to install.

But, is it worth it? How well does it work? A couple of our forum members have taken it upon themselves to do some testing and share it with us.

AC_Hacker did a quick test setup with an IR thermometer. His images are shown in this post.

bubble wrap

He bought a 24 inch wide roll of bubble wrap for $15. This is enough to cover three or four windows. When tested on a single pane window with no storm window, he said there was a pretty sizable improvement. The single pane of glass measured 47F / 8.3C without bubble wrap, and with two layers, the inside surface measured almost 56F / 13.3C.

AC_Hacker also tested the bubble wrap on a single pane window and a double pane window filled with argon gas. He said they each showed a lessening impact having the bubble wrap on them.

These were his conclusions:

  • 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.

However, I’m sure I’m not the only one with a box laying around somewhere with some bubble wrap in it. Finding some for free shouldn’t be a big issue. So, you should be able to do this for free.

Gary Reysa also did some testing with bubble wrap quite a few years ago and shared his results with us. His tests were done on double pane windows with a low-e coating on them. He also used an IR thermometer to take his temperature readings. His results showed a 45% reduction in heat loss. Very respectable. It looks like he used bubble wrap with the larger bubbles on it compared to AC_Hacker’s bubble wrap with little bubbles.

So, if you have windows you just use for light, consider putting some bubble wrap over them. Its extremely easy to do and Gary even has an installation guide on how to do it on his site.

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