Keep Cold Air Out With the Best Window Insulation Kits Tested in 2024

By Tom Scalisi | Updated Jan 28, 2024 5:11 PM

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Keep Cold Air Out With the Best Window Insulation Kits Tested in 2024

Photo: Tom Scalisi for Bob Vila

Window insulation kits offer an affordable way to cut the cost of your energy bill and make a home less drafty. For those who cannot afford to replace windows, a window insulation kit is a great alternative.

Most window insulation kits work the same way: A sheet of heat-shrink plastic or other insulating material is attached to the window panes with double-sided tape or magnetic strips to add a layer of insulation. The best window insulation kits are easy to install and provide an effective barrier to drafts. Windows that have been treated with insulation cannot usually be opened, meaning these kits are a seasonal solution to drafty windows.

To help you decide which of these window insulation kits would best fit your needs, I researched 12 products and then performed hands-on testing with all of the following insulation kits. Read on for shopping considerations when selecting this type of window treatment and to learn why these are among the best window insulation kits available.

Photo: Tom Scalisi for Bob Vila

I wanted to ensure that any window insulation kit we recommended was truly effective and easy to install, so I put each of these kits to the test. I installed each kit according to the manufacturer’s instructions to see how easy they were to install and to determine the components’ quality. I also tested how well the plastic shrank and how easy the wrinkles were to remove. I left them on the windows for 2 days to see how well they worked (I even left a few on permanently to get through the winter). I then removed them to determine what that process was like and how much cleanup there would be.

It’s worth noting that without a laboratory full of expensive machinery and repeatable, consistent conditions, it’s hard to objectively determine which window insulation kits insulated better. However, all the kits we included on this list were effective at stopping any noticeable air movement or condensation.

Photo: Tom Scalisi for Bob Vila

The following recommendations are among the best window insulation kits available in their respective categories.

This 3M insulator kit comes with enough film to cover up to five windows measuring 5 feet long by 3 feet wide. This relatively thick film provides enhanced insulation thanks to its thickness of 0.75 mils (a unit of measurement equal to a thousandth of an inch). The film comes in one cut-to-fit sheet that measures 17.5 feet long by 5.16 feet wide. This kit also comes with a 27.7-yard roll of double-sided tape to facilitate installation and ensure it stays in place all season.

This was my favorite kit to install. I thought I would prefer the rolls of plastic sheeting, and it is true that this one was tricky to lay out and cut to size, but nonetheless, this kit allowed me to reposition the plastic a few times before pressing it down and heating it. Also, the kit does cover a lot of square footage, but the ends of the sheet can be tough, so it’s important to take your time. After I finished installing the kit, removing wrinkles was extremely easy. This kit provided the best results alongside the other 3M products that use the same plastic.

Get the 3M indoor window insulation kit at Amazon.

Cozy as the winter months can be, the cold outside can be brutal. To keep a home insulated and warm in the winter, consider the Duck Max Strength window kit. It comes with everything required for insulating 5-foot-long by 3-foot-wide windows in bedrooms, offices, kitchens, and more, including film, tape, and an instruction manual. But it can be cut to fit smaller windows if necessary.

Made with puncture-resistant shrink film, this 126-inch-long by 62-inch-wide indoor option is perfect for high-traffic homes with children and pets. It’s easy to install and remove cleanly, making it suitable for first timers. For added reliability, this kit can be used on painted wood, aluminum, vinyl, and finished/varnished wood, but it can’t be used on plaster, drywall, or unfinished wood.

The Duck Brand window kit’s film is considerably thicker than other competing options, so I installed it over the window my 80-pound lab-pointer mix likes to jump at. To be fair, no film stood a chance against my dog, but it did stick to the windowsill that he has effectively destroyed over the past year. I was able to easily repair any damage with packing tape. Also, the Duck kits come in rolls, which are easy to cut to width and then drop down over the window for easy unfolding. It was really difficult to get the wrinkles out (it took over 30 minutes of heating with a blow dryer to get it reasonably clear), but it was easy to remove once I could get under the tape and pull it back.

Get the Duck Brand Max Strength window insulation kit at Amazon.

Those who want to insulate on a budget can trust this shrink film kit from Duck Brand. With its crystal-clear shrink film and included double-sided insulating tape, this option can reduce energy consumption. At 210 inches long by 62 inches wide, this large film can be cut if required but works best for windows that measure 5 feet long by 3 feet wide. For convenience, this option is also offered in various size options.

This pick can also be applied to painted wood, aluminum, vinyl, and finished wood for more insulation, but it isn’t suitable for plaster, drywall, or unfinished wood varieties.

The kit was fairly easy to install, and it seemed reasonably durable. The roll-out installation made it manageable to unravel, and it featured quality adhesive tape that stuck well and was easy to remove the backing from. While it’s similar in thickness to most of the films we tested, it felt smoother out of the box. It also had a more substantial, higher-quality feel. Unfortunately, it was difficult to remove the existing wrinkles, and there were marks from the manufacturing plant in the film that I could not heat out.

Get the Duck Brand shrink film window insulation kit at Amazon.

If shoppers prefer to install insulating film on the outside of windows, they’ll want a long-lasting product that can hold up to the elements. This outdoor-use window film was created by 3M for that very purpose. Capable of covering up to two 5-foot-long by 3-foot-wide windows, 3M’s kit comes with a sheet of 0.75 mil-thick film that’s 7 feet long and 5.16 feet wide. It also includes just under 14 yards of high-quality double-sided tape. This kit installs like an indoor window film kit: cut, tape, shrink, and trim.

The only difference I could discern between this kit and the other 3M insulation kits was that the adhesive felt like it was of a better quality (though there was nothing wrong with the quality of the other kits). Otherwise, it was the same thickness with the same ease of wrinkle removal. The only challenge I found was that it was difficult and frustrating to install a sheet outside if there was any wind at all, so 3M might consider using a roll-type installation for this kit. But in my opinion, there is no reason it can’t be installed on an interior window as well, so it’s a good kit all around.

Get the 3M outdoor window insulation kit at Amazon.

Covering a large feature window with a standard window film kit isn’t an option. Instead, a specially designed product like this one from 3M is vital. This kit gets the job done with a single sheet of 19.7-foot-long by 7-foot-wide plastic film. Boasting a thickness of 0.75 mils, 3M’s insulating film is extra durable, and the kit comes with all the double-sided tape necessary for application.

To be clear, installing a large piece of window insulation film over a big window will require help. With the way this kit is folded rather than rolled, without a helper, there is no simple way to install it. However, once installed, it looks great, and the wrinkles can be removed easily so that the light and view from a big-picture window don’t need to be obscured. Also, the sheet can be removed easily when the warmer weather hits.

Get the 3M XL window insulation kit at Amazon.

New insulating tape is essential for those who love to reuse their insulation sheets. When new insulation is needed, Yotache’s high-density foam tape is a good option. This thick tape comes in two rolls, providing a combined 13 feet of length. It can be cut with ease using a scissors or blade.

The closed cell foam is made from chloroprene rubber foam and neoprene, making it weather- and dustproof, oil- and corrosion-resistant, and flame-retardant. As for the adhesive quality, this tape has a waterproof grid backing that can endure temperatures ranging from -58 to 302 degrees Fahrenheit. Though these are meant for windows, they can also be attached to furniture, cabinets, cars, boats, sports equipment, HVAC systems, plumbing, and more. Plus, there are a lot of thicknesses and lengths to choose from based on the user’s needs.

I installed the Yotache weather stripping at the bottom of one of my windows to see how well it worked. My windows are new and not leaky, so the tolerances were a little tight (though I was able to lock the sashes). However, if I did have leaky windows, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this foam. It’s incredibly tough thanks to the fiberglass adhesive mesh on the back, yet it’s easy to cut and install. It also removes cleanly but won’t fall off on its own. Plus, there’s a benefit to being able to open the window if necessary. I found the foam too dense for my application, but I can see it making a world of difference for older windows with too much clearance.

Get the Yotache window insulation tape at Amazon.

Comfort aside, one of the most important reasons to insulate drafty windows is to save energy and lower monthly heating costs. Saving energy also benefits the environment. With Frost King’s window film, the company claims users can reduce their carbon footprint related to heating and cooling by up to 35 percent. This kit comes with enough individual sheets of plastic to cover up to nine windows measuring 5 feet long by 3 feet wide. It also includes 165 feet of double-sided tape.

This kit is very similar to other kits on the list, but that’s okay because they’re all good quality. I found that this one installed just like the others, yet with slightly smaller sheets that were a little easier to manage. The film is the same thickness and quality as most of the other kits, and considering it can cover up to nine windows, it’s a great deal. The wrinkles were very easy to remove with a blow dryer, but I did find the tape wasn’t as high quality as the kits from other brands.

Get the Frost King window insulation kit at Amazon.

The StangH Portable Thermal Insulated Blackout Curtains didn’t meet my expectations. First, the way the suction cups are affixed to the curtain with keyrings is extremely frustrating and time-consuming. Also, unless the glass is warm, sticking a suction cup to a cold surface is very difficult. This curtain also looks terrible from the outside, as the suction cups are extremely visible. A standard thermal curtain will likely work almost as well, look much nicer, and be easier to install.

There are a number of factors to consider when shopping for window insulation kits. They’re available in different foil types, such as plastic, magnetic, and reflective. Features like film thickness, dimensions, reusability, and installation requirements will determine which insulation kit is most suitable for your home.

Several window insulation product types are on the market: plastic film, magnetic barriers, and reflective foil insulation.

Windows come in all sizes, so look for kits with enough film to cover your windows. Most kits come with enough plastic sheets and double-sided tape to seal several windows. It’s essential for shoppers to know their windows’ dimensions to determine which kit will work for their home.

Window insulation kits create a trap for air between the window and the film. That trap is called an air lock. Double-sided tape, which holds the film in place on the window pane, will create an air lock. By pressing the film firmly onto the tape, users can create a strong bond that keeps drafts out.

To create a long-lasting seal, durable film is a must. Durability is often determined by the film’s thickness. Thick film offers more resistance to punctures from kids or pets. It’s also easier to apply correctly, thus establishing a good seal. Thick film does a better job of insulating windows. Standard window film is about 19 micrometers (μm) thick, while heavy-duty film can be as thick as 38 μm.

Some homes have only one or two truly drafty windows, while others have a slew of them. Choose a kit that has enough film to cover all the drafty windows. Many kits come in multipacks that can cover up to 10 windows. They come with sheets of film that can be cut to size, so every window that needs insulation can be covered.

Window insulation kits are meant to be temporary solutions to drafty windows. The good news is that most of these kits are reusable, so buyers won’t have to purchase a new kit every year. Films 19 μm or thicker can be peeled off the double-sided tape, folded up, and stored when winter is over. The double-sided tape won’t be reusable, but a roll of double-sided tape is cheaper than a houseful of window kits.

The best window insulation kits are effective, affordable, and easy to install. Most kits are installed by placing double-sided tape around the perimeter of the window jamb. Then, window film is applied to the tape. At the bottom of the window, the film is attached to a piece of tape on the sill, making a seal. Finally, the film is heated with a handheld blow dryer to create a transparent, airtight seal free from wrinkles.

Still have questions about choosing the best window insulation kits? Here’s some more information to help you decide.

Window insulation kits create an effective barrier preventing cold air from entering a home. Heat-shrink film applied to the window pane with double-sided tape creates an air gap that works like a thermal window.

Insulated curtains do a good job of keeping the cold temperatures at bay, but they don’t create airtight seals to hold back drafts like window insulation kits do. Plus, insulated curtains must be closed to work, so they block natural light. Window insulation film is usually clear, so it doesn’t block those precious rays of winter sun from shining into a home.

Some window insulation kits claim to reduce a home’s energy consumption by up to 35 percent. Users will need to install these products carefully and on every leaky window to maximize their effectiveness.

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

Tom Scalisi is a full-time DIY and construction writer for many of the largest websites in the industry, including, This Old House, Family Handyman, and Forbes. He also owns and operates a pest control blog,

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Keep Cold Air Out With the Best Window Insulation Kits Tested in 2024

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