Having your energy bills skyrocket in the winter is unfortunately part of being a grown-up in Tahoe; but regardless, it really stinks to pay exorbitant amounts of money to heat your house each month, especially if a bulk of the heat is escaping through single pane windows that haven’t been replaced since the 1960 Olympics.
Below are four techniques, as explained by the folks at Tahoe Mountain Hardware and Sports, for winterizing your windows to help keep your home warm and your monthly bills down(ish).
WRAP YOUR WINDOWS FROM THE INSIDE This technique is probably the most common in Tahoe and can be done with a simple window insulation kit and a hair dryer. The kit essentially includes double stick tape and a sheet of thin, transparent plastic, and shockingly, it doesn’t create as much of an eyesore as you might expect. It will require you to take all your trinkets off your windowsill. The biggest downfall — if you’re wrapping a window by the fireplace, which would make sense to do for obvious reasons — is that the plastic will shrink so much because of the heat that it will detach from the window frame. If you’re having this problem, please see “wrap your windows from the outside.”
Wrap Your Windows from the Outside Basically, with this method, you are creating an additional window to be attached to the outside of your existing window (insert be-safe-on-ladders PSA here). For this winterizing technique you will build a new window frame structure the same size as the window, then you will attach a thicker plastic poly sheeting — Mountain Hardware offers poly sheeting in 3 and 4 foot widths. Then attach this “window” to the outside of your trouble window. The benefit of wrapping your windows from the outside is that you can use thicker material, it’s less of an eyesore from the inside, and can be reused season after season — plus, it can be applied to windows located near heat sources.
Weather stripping Weather stripping works to seal around the window’s sash (the movable part of a window that opens and closes) — you know, that narrow plastic piece that gets all flappy and detached after time. You’ve got a few different options here, as explained by the folks at Popular Mechanics (nerds get cold too): adhesive-backed foam, tubular rubber-gasket weather stripping, spring v-seal, and felt. Ask your neighborhood hardware store which option is best for you.
Thermal Blinds and Insulated Curtains This is probably the most aesthetic option, and also the priciest. But you’ve got choices with a wide array of cellular shades or insulated curtains. Cellular shades insulate while still letting light in — I’m looking at you, shady West Shore. Insulated curtains also work well for trapping heat in, but they also shut the light out; so, if you’re working as a groomer who needs to sleep during the day, this might be just the solution for your chilly bedroom.


  • Ally Gravina

    Ally Gravina is a freelance journalist and former Moonshine editor based in Graeagle. She has a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she specialized in arts and culture reporting.

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