In our last post, we lamented how quickly warm autumn days have passed us by here in the Eastern Seaboard states and got down to plotting ways to keep windows insulated and indoor temperatures comfortable for folks who own their homes. This week, we’d like to tackle the problem by considering it from renters’ points of view. If you’re renting a home or apartment, it can be uniquely challenging to do much about a drafty space; you can’t replace the windows, after all, and even applying weatherstripping, sealants, or spray foam may be out of the question. But renters are in a unique position, because they do pay the energy bill, and as the US Department of Energy notes, “about 30% of a home’s heating energy is lost through windows.”

If you are a renter living in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania, we hope our tips will help you prepare your place for the cooler months, save on your energy bill, and enjoy the comfort of a cozy indoor environment!

Cold-Weather Window Prep Tips for Renters

Insulated curtains

The draw of insulated curtains was, at one time, more or less negated by the variety–or lack thereof–of options on the market. Basically, if you wanted insulated curtains, you had to settle for a handful or muddled, dark, or otherwise unappealing color options. But nowadays, there are more insulated curtain options than ever, and they come in a wide array of stylish options.

Insulated curtains or drapes (the former cover the window, while the latter drop to the floor) are an effective tool for guarding your home from heat loss. They’re convenient too, because they allow you to enjoy daytime sunlight–sunlight that will help warm your space–but can easily be moved back into position to guard against drafts at night.

But, believe it or not,  the way you hang insulated curtains or drapes will make a major impact on how energy-efficient they will be. The US Department of Energy explains: “To reduce heat exchange or convection, draperies should be hung as close to windows as possible and fall onto a windowsill or floor. For maximum effectiveness, install a cornice at the top of a drapery or place the drapery against the ceiling. Then seal the drapery at both sides and overlap it in the center. You can use Velcro or magnetic tape to attach drapes to the wall at the sides and bottom. Taking these steps may reduce heat loss up to 25%”

Insulated Cellular shades

Insulated cellular shades represent another excellent option for protecting a rented home or apartment from winter temperatures. They’re attractive, simple, and while they are not always as cheap as insulated curtains, they work even better to prevent heat loss.

It’s the construction of this particular type of shade that sets it apart as an energy efficiency winner. The honeycombed interior of the shade traps air, providing a layer of insulation that is highly effective at preventing heat transfer. As the folks at Green Energy Efficient Homes explain, “when the shades are pulled in, the hexagons collapse and take up very little space; when they are extended, the hexagons draw in air from the sides, which then stays relatively still. The more you can compartmentalize the air in a space, the better the R value of the space.” (By the way, R-value is simply a measure of a how well an object resists heat transfer.) They go on to estimate that insulated cellular shades can “block up to 62% of the heat transfer through the window.” That’s a serious return on investment, making cellular shades just the right kind of investment for renters.

When to Talk to Your Landlord about Replacing Windows

If you have tried both insulated curtains and shades and are still experiencing drafty windows and uncomfortably low indoor temperatures, it might be the right time to talk to your landlord. While this can be an uncomfortable situation to be in as a renter, it is your right to have a safe and habitable space.  At the very least, your landlord should be able to address drafty windows with more permanent insulating measures, and at best, he or she may have been anticipating the need for window replacement in some areas of the home or apartment you are renting!