Windows are one of the most poorly insulated parts of an apartment, but upgrading the glass isn't an option when you rent. Fortunately, you do still have options that can lower your energy usage while keeping your apartment cooler in summer and warmer in the winter.
Cut the Drafts
If your apartment windows are letting in drafts, chances are they aren't sealed properly. To check for drafts, turn off your heating and cooling system and close the window. Light a candle and slowly move it around the edges of your window. If the flame moves or blows out, you've found a draft.
Chances are that sealing the windows with caulk yourself is against your rental agreement. This leaves you with a few other options:
Put in a request with building maintenance to have your window seals and weatherstripping replaced. Depending on your landlord and the maintenance crew's schedule, this may not be a high priority, so it may take awhile.
Purchase and install removable window film yourself. This film sticks to the window frame, and then it shrinks to form a tight seal when you heat it with a blow dryer. It's easily removable and leaves behind no residue, making it an ideal solution for renters.
Use fabric draft dodgers along the bottom of the window or a sliding glass door. These work well only if the drafts are coming in from the bottom of the window.
Install rope caulk instead of the standard caulk. This caulk comes in long rope that you cut to size and press into the gaps. It doesn't permanently adhere, so you can pull it off when you move out.
Upgrade Your Window Coverings
Many apartments come with standard window coverings, often mini blinds. Your lease agreement may prevent you from taking down these blinds, since many landlords want all the building windows to have a uniform look from the outside. Unfortunately, mini blinds do very little to improve energy efficiency.
A better option is heavy energy-efficient drapes. These add another layer of insulation to the window, yet you can still open them to let in a breeze in the summer or the warm sunlight in winter. If you get the type that blocks out light, drapes can keep your apartment cooler in the summer months when the sun is beating on the windows.
You have three options for hanging drapes in an apartment:
Get permission to install the hardware from your landlord. Each drape rod bracket uses between two and four screws, so you don't want to install without permission unless you are a pro at patching and painting over the holes.
Install tension rods inside the window frame or inside the box valance above the blinds. Tension rods won't hold exceptionally heavy curtains, but they can work well for lighter weight black out drapes. The curtains will also sit inside the window frame, which won't help block any drafts.
Use heavy-duty removable stick-on wall hooks. Choose hooks large enough to hold a narrow curtain rod and place them above the window. This allows you to use a curtain wider than the window, although weight can be an issue depending on the size of the curtains. When you are ready to move, simply pull the tab and peel the hooks from the wall.
Renting doesn't mean you have to be stuck with cold drafts and high energy bills. Get creative or work with your landlord to get your windows covered as efficiently as possible. A company like House Of Drapery can be a great resource for finding ways to improve the energy efficiency of your apartment's windows.