5

These newspaper articles claim that bubble wrap is an effective window insulator:

  • The Telegraph

    Cheap and effective: using bubble wrap on the inside of your windows will help reduce energy bills

  • NZ Herald

    As homeowner Denise Wheoki has discovered, the cheap plastic wrap traps heat.

    Save money on heating bills during winter

    Make your house warmer by sticking sheets of bubble wrap over windows and sliding doors.

  • CBS News

    You can use bubble wrap to insulate older windows or windows that are not commonly used around the house. Simply cut the bubble wrap to shape of the window, spray the glass with plain water, and attach. The sunlight can still come through the window, creating radiant heat, but the bubble wrap traps it inside to prevent leaking. The bubble wrap is said to increase a window's efficiency rating from an R-1 to an R-2, essentially changing a single-pane glass one into a double-pane one.

An ecorenovator forum user posted an anecdote of having success.

The This Is Money describes a related idea of using cling film stretched across the frame to reduce drafts.

Are there any studies to show the effect on energy use?

5

The article you found on ecorenovator did some crude tests with a thermometer. He found it makes a significant difference on single-thickness glass, but not on double-glazed windows. The tests look reasonable, and would line up with the theory about trapping a layer of air. So I'd say yes.

The original tests seem to be documented here, but its a bit unclear.

http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Conservation/bubblewrapperformance.htm

  • Thanks, Paul. I'm a bit skeptical of the results on that site. IIRC, the experimenter found 2 identical windows, put bubble wrap on one, measured the temperatures of the windows, calculated the heat flux based on the temperatures and outside temperatures and concluded that the one with wrap reduced heat loss by 45%. Firstly, does the presence of one window affect the other. Secondly, 45% is the reduction of heat loss through the window, not the room overall, e.g. suppose only 10% of the total heat loss is through the window, isn't the overall reduction is "only" 4.5%? – Gnubie Jan 22 '16 at 10:58

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