Taut As a Drum

Here’s a dual purpose post, to show off one of my winterizing steps and the view out of my rear window!


Can you see what I’ve done to the window? No? Me neither, but it is so far making a surprising difference to my comfort level. I applied some shrink-to-fit plastic window insulation over it (this is not the kit I used, but an well-rated comparable product).

I’ve had this kit in my basement since Campbell River, so four years! I never installed it because after I got it home and read the instructions, I realised such a product was incompatible with feline roommates.

A few RVers had told me that they install the kits on the exterior of their windows, but the instructions say to install them on the exterior part of the interior frame. This means that the plastic is not flush against the window, creating an air gap. So not only do the kits cut drafts, they also add genuine R value thanks to the air gap. I don’t know how much, but I felt a veritable difference last night once the plastic was up.

Installation wasn’t as fussy as I expected it to be. You start by applying the double-sided tape all around the frame, using the wax strip over it to press the tape down well before removing the wax strip.

The instructions say to cut the plastic to size, but I didn’t have room to spread it out for measuring and cutting. So I just grabbed one corner and installed that neatly vertically and horizontally, pulling as tight as I could, until the entire window was covered, then I cut away the excess at the side and bottom (and enough to do a couple more windows).

Once the plastic was on, I was a little dismayed as I hadn’t gotten it as taut as I thought I did and there were lots of wrinkles. The idea of looking through that all winter was depressing. But I wasn’t done, there was still one more step to do: shrinking the film with a hair dryer.

I started with the dryer on low and that did nothing. I increased the heat to high and followed the instructions to start at the edges and work my way in. It took a few minutes but I started to hear the plastic stretch as it shrank! It took at least 10 minutes, but steady passes with the hair dryer over the wrinkles turned the flabby plastic into a taut clear skin. I was very impressed.

Next, I did the window behind my desk. This one didn’t do as neat of a job since it’s not a flat plane of glass, but the corner that didn’t smooth out is behind my monitor, so it’s not like I can see it. This exercise was the most valuable since I’ve had to keep the window open 1/4″ to let in the cable for my booster. I had just sealed the gap with tape, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough. I put double-sided tape around the area where the wire comes in and then plastic. I got an air-tight seal, but the plastic isn’t smooth.

I’ve got enough plastic to do the other window in here. I will get another kit to do my living room windows and the one in my toilet room.

12 thoughts on “Taut As a Drum

  1. I am going to do our north facing bedroom windows with this, although we just put on extra insulation and hardiback cement siding on our house,this summer, I am always cold in the winter. Electric heating mattress cover, two blankets, down comforter, flannels sheets, wool socks, sweatshirt over pajamas. I still get cold. Ahh, I hate winter.

  2. LOL That sounds like what I wear to bed, only I have an extra blanket or two!

    One thing I learned in my winter camping days is that to be warm all night, you have to go to bed feeling warm. So I pre-warm the bed with the electric blanket and my PJs with the heaters. I then reset the blanket timer for an additional 45 minutes (so 1.5 hours of heating total). Combined with all my bedding and the insulation in the loft, this is enough to keep me very toasty all night even as the rig dips down to about 50F!

  3. Hi Rae,
    The window covering cost seems great… especially when it works. I might try this too.
    I have a question, what kind/type of electric blanket do you use? I haven’t used one in soo long (waterbed 30+ years), I don’t know what to look for…for RV use. (off subject, sorry 🙂 )
    Stay warm

    • Vicki, keeping warm is on topic! There are a number of 12-V blankets on Amazon. I have two by the same company, although I can only find the blanket without a timer now. The other one has a timer that can be set for 30 or 45 minutes.

      The blanket is fairly small, but it works for me since I have a full-sized bed. I doesn’t cover the whole bed. I put it in the middle of the mattress low enough to warm my feet and it comes up to about halfway up my back. I keep it under my blankets and sleep on top of it. I’m using flannel sheets right now, so the warmth seems to spread.

      The blankets draw 6A, so you have to be careful when boondocking if you’re going to leave them running all night. But 45 minutes of heating the bed is 4.5A well spent. 🙂

  4. I am so gonna pre heat my jammies in the bed with the heated mattress cover on, ooohh Genius! Slappin forehead, why haven’t I thought of it before?

  5. LOL

    The oil-filled radiators are also great for heating clothes as you’d have to leave them on there for a LONG time to risk a fire. I even use the heaters heat water and to thaw things. 🙂

  6. Dave’s Dad used that plastic on windows in his house and was very happy with the results. He only had full use of one hand after this stroke so I’m not sure how he installed it but he did.

  7. I think that this would be very doable one-handed, especially with smaller windows. Once you get a corner secure, it stays in place so you could easily get the rest in place with just one hand.

    I noticed a big difference today in my comfort level. I probably helps that I got a better seal around that window leak where the cable is coming in!

  8. “Combined with all my bedding and the insulation in the loft, this is enough to keep me very toasty all night even as the rig dips down to about 50F!”

    I was laughing when I read this, you don’t do cold very well Eh. I don’t consider it cold until it drops below 40F that is when I get into my sleeping bag rather than have it opened up and used as a comforter.

  9. Ed, 40F outside is very different from 50F inside. We’ve been averaging daytime exterior highs of about 40F and nighttime lows below freezing and I haven’t even been running the furnace, just the two heaters on low. 50F is about as low as it should get inside to avoid anything freezing.

    Moreover, I used to do cold just fine, but I haven’t had to do real cold in five years and I’ve also lost a lot of weight, which makes a huge (and surprising) difference! 🙂

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