If the experts are to be believed, the winter of 2016-2017 is going to be a tough one. While you might spend a decent amount of time each fall getting your home winter ready, it’s easy to forget to add winterizing your windows to the list, especially if you’ve yet to replace some lost or damaged roofing tiles or schedule a furnace inspection.

In truth, your windows can be one of the areas of your home that’s responsible for the most heat loss – so taking the time to make sure that your windows are ready for the impending winter should be regarded with a great deal of importance. Thankfully, most of the work can be done without hiring a professional and won’t take up too much of your time either.

1. Invest in Rubber Weather Sealing: It’s Worth it

Available at any hardware store, weather sealing lets you eliminate any drafts that might emanate from your windows. Simply cut the length you need to match the dimensions of your windows, then peel and stick it to your window frame to close any gaps that might be present. Weather sealing works great, is cheap, and is easy to apply but know this – when it comes time to remove it, there’s a chance it’ll leave behind a sticky residue, or worse yet, damage the window frame’s paint.

2. Insulation Film

Insulation film is another DIY option you can choose to dramatically reduce heat loss. Like weather sealing, insulation film is easy to install, adhering to your window frame using double sided tape. Using a heat gun or hair dryer, the plastic shrinks, essentially creating an air pocket between the window and your home’s interior.

3. Get the Right Window Treatments

Believe it or not, your window treatments can also help to insulate your home. Cellular shades in particular are good because they contain pockets (or cells) that trap air keeping your home’s heat where it belongs. To be fair, layered curtains made of thicker materials will likely provide more insulation than cellular shades, but cellular shades will allow natural light into the room when drawn (thick curtains, on the other hand will not).
It’s estimated that anywhere from 10-30% of your home’s heat is lost through your windows. While a new set of shades or drapes can be expensive, they’ll begin paying for themselves right away by helping to retain your home’s heat.

4. Drafty Window Sill? Make a Draft Snake!

Even if you used weather sealing, you might have a particularly drafty window sill. If so, you can make a draft snake to reduce the airflow. Simply make a fabric tube the length of your window sill and fill it with dried rice. This also works for doors as well.

5. Have Storm Windows? Take Down Your Screens

If you’ve got storm windows, remove your screens. Yes, this is prevent your screens from being damaged during the winter, but doing so will actually end up letting in much more sunlight into your home, and that means more solar heat.

Okay, the Windows Are Covered, Now What?

6. Install a New Furnace Filter

Given that 30% of your home’s energy use relates to your furnace, you’ll want to make sure that it’s running at peak efficiency. While it’s a good idea to have a professional inspect your furnace every couple of years, there are a some things that you can do before making an appointment. First, replace your air filter before the cold season begins (and every 3 months thereafter). If possible, try to only use filters that are rated for efficiency – dollar store solutions may seem appealing financially, but will let you down in terms of performance.  If you’re handy, you can also open your furnace and clean out any accumulated dust and dirt as long as you do so carefully.

7. Inspect Your Attic for Missing Insulation

Before it gets too cold outside, pop your head into your attic and check your insulation. Look for any areas that don’t look the insulation has been placed properly. You’ll also want to make sure that your attic is adequately ventilated. Admittedly, it sounds a little strange to suggest in one fell swoop to make sure your attic is at the same time adequately insulated (retain heat) and properly ventilated (allow the cold to come in) but doing so is crucial to making sure ice dams don’t form on your roof. Ice dams, for their part, can damage your shingles and cause leaks which can destroy your insulation – compromising your home’s ability to retain heat.