Super Handyman: Make your windows more efficient without breaking the bank - The Buffalo News

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Super Handyman: Make your windows more efficient without breaking the bank

Windows let light into our homes, but most let a lot more than that in. The fact is that a standard window just doesn’t insulate against heat and cold air. You can upgrade to a more energy-efficient model, though. If you don’t have the budget for that or just want to add a little more to what you already have, try one or more of these ideas.

Add weatherstripping along the sides and bottom of the sash so that it will seal better when closed. This can be something as simple as a peel-and-stick foam gasket, available at most home centers and hardware stores. Also available are vinyl “V” strips and metal weather-stripping. You even can buy a roll of removable caulk.

It also wouldn’t hurt to caulk around the frame of the window to fill any gaps that might let air in. Larger cavities can be filled with scraps of fiberglass insulation or expanding foam.

Another layer of protection can be added simply with a plastic storm window. There are a couple of companies that make these, and they are inexpensive and easy to install.

Most use a double-sided tape that is installed around the edge of the window frame, and a plastic sheet is stretched over the window and attached to the tape. This, combined with the layer of air between the glass and the plastic, increases the energy efficiency quite a bit.

You also can have custom-made storm windows installed. Some are installed inside your home, while others are fit to the exterior of your home.

Thermal-lined drapes also can be effective. You can buy drapes already lined or add a thermal lining panel to your existing drapes.

Some other insulated shades use magnets along the sides to keep them fit to your windows and will keep hot or cold air out.


Q: I started cleaning and sealing up gaps around the outside of the house before the winter comes. Then I happened onto a huge wasp nest. I’m just glad they didn’t see me before I spotted them. How can I get rid of them without getting stung? I will have to knock the nest down afterward, too. – P.L.

A: You can find a wasp and hornet spray that will shoot about 20 feet, so you can stand well away and knock out most of them. After spraying, give them some time to die and disperse. Then you can go back with a broom to knock down the nest. Wash it off with a water hose. You may have to go over the spot where it was with a putty knife to scrape off anything that’s still left behind. Good luck!

A Super hint

Those old CDs make great scarecrows. Hang them in and around your garden by monofilament, and they will move around and scare off the birds. The shiny surfaces reflect the light, and they are too flashy for most birds, and even for a few squirrels.


Valspar’s Frosting Spray is the easiest way to turn a clear glass or plastic window into a beautiful, private window. It comes in a spray can, so it’s fast and easy to apply, and it will block out prying eyes but not sunlight. It’s great for garage-door windows, too, and you can add additional coats to make it even more opaque. You can use it with stencils to create accents on a window or your front-door panel. Check it out at or at your favorite paint store.

Got a question or a handy tip? Send it to the Super Handyman at Those of general interest will be used in future columns.

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