Frequently Asked Questions
What are WindowDressers Insulating Window Inserts?
Our inserts are constructed of custom-made pine frames wrapped in two layers of tightly-sealed, clear plastic film and finished with a compressible foam gasket. The foam allows enough give for the inserts to be easily slid into place in the fall and removed in the spring, while holding firmly enough to provide a tight, friction-based seal that stops drafts and adds two more insulating air spaces between your home and your window. The inserts are installed inside of your existing window with no fasteners required. They function like interior storm windows.
What size should I order?
Our inserts are custom built to the exact size of your windows. Simply place your order online or contact your Local Coordinator. We will then schedule a team of trained volunteers to visit your home and measure each window for inserts. Please be sure to have a clear path to each window before the measuring team arrives.
How much do they cost?
How much money will I save with your inserts?
Our research shows that, in a typical house, one medium 11-ft2 pine insert (30” x 52”) may save an average of 8.5 gallons of heating oil (0.8 gallons/ft2) every year, for an estimated savings of $15-$43 per year, depending on variations in fuel price. Our inserts generally pay for themselves in two heating seasons or less.
Savings may vary based on outside temperature, whether you have single- or double-pane windows, and what type of heating fuel you use. Our estimates are based on 7,074 heating-degree-days (median historical value for Bangor, Maine 2010-2021), a standard fuel oil-fired furnace (78% efficiency), window insert R-value of 2.0, and averaged results for single- and double-pane existing windows (R-value of 0.91 and 1.93, respectively).
For more detailed information, access the links below.
Public window insert energy emissions model 2023 – you can download this Excel spreadsheet and change the inputs to model your own scenarios. Make sure to start by reading the Instructions tab.
WindowDressers Energy Emissions Money Savings Estimates March 2023 – you can download this Excel spreadsheet to see how we calculated our estimates of annual and cumulative energy, fuel, and emissions savings.
How do I pay for my inserts?
Your measuring team will accept your payment by check at the time of the measuring visit. If it is not possible to pay by check you can pay by credit card HERE
Why do I have to pay so far in advance?
We are a small nonprofit with a tight budget. Your advance payment gives us the funds to purchase all of the materials that will be used to construct your inserts.
I can’t afford inserts. Do you offer help for low-income households?
Yes, we do! If you are low-income and qualify for public assistance programs like LiHeap, SNAP or Food Pantry, we are happy to provide you with up to 10 pine inserts per year at no charge. Your participation in the Community Workshop is still needed! If you are able to afford some monetary contribution, we welcome a donation to WindowDressers in whatever amount works for you. This helps us to further extend our program to more households.
How long do the inserts last?
With reasonable care, our inserts are known to last for 5-10 years. After that time, the foam may begin to degrade and/or the plastic may tear. We offer re-wrapping of your frames for just $15 per insert.
Will your inserts fit my windows?
We send trained volunteers to your house to measure your windows. Our inserts are custom-built to those exact measurements. However, there are some cases where our inserts will not work for you. If your windows are badly out of square, if you lack framing around your windows (like in an older-model mobile home), or if you have unusual trim inside of your framing that prevents a tight fit, our trained volunteer measurers may tell you that your windows are not compatible with our inserts. Double-hung, casement, and sliding windows are all usually compatible.
What if they don’t fit?
If our trained volunteers examine and measure your windows and approve your order, we guarantee that your inserts will fit. In the rare cases where an insert does not fit, we fix the insert until it fits or refund your money.
The insert is blowing out of the window.
When this is the case the friction between the foam seals on the insert and the window frame is not sufficient to hold the insert in place against the effect of strong wind. A simple solution is to put a ‘push pin’ into the window frame alongside the insert to give the insert physical support. Just two push pins, one midway on each side, should be sufficient.
I have blinds in my windows. Can I still get inserts?
There must be ⅞” between the back of your blinds and the front of your inner-most window pane for our inserts to fit in between. That may mean that you need to move your blinds to accommodate the inserts.
I’m a renter. Can I still get inserts?
Yes! Since there are no fasteners to damage the window-framing, inserts are an ideal choice for renters to improve the warmth of their living space. Some landlords will even purchase inserts for their tenants, especially if the landlord pays for the heat.
I have cats/ dogs/ kids. Will inserts work for me?
Our inserts are quite durable. However, the plastic film can be damaged by puncture. If a dog or cat puts their claws into the plastic, it will tear. If a child pokes a pencil into it, it will tear. Inserts that are damaged in such a way can be rewrapped for $15 each. Some homeowners with pets will leave their pet’s favorite window without an inserts, put a curtain over the lower part of the insert, or fasten a piece of plexiglass over the lower part of the insert.
Can I leave my inserts in all year?
You can! Inserts improve the efficiency of air conditioning as much as they help keep your home warmer in winter. Most homeowners take the inserts out of their windows in the spring so they can enjoy the cool summer breezes through their open windows.
How do I install my inserts?
Inserts are easy to install. Read the labels on the insert and distribute them around the house according to the locations shown. Some common abbreviations are:
MBR – Master Bedroom
KIT – Kitchen
BATH – Bathroom
BR-UP – Upstairs Bedroom
DR – Dining Room
BATH-UP – Upstairs bathroom
BR-DN – Downstairs Bedroom
LVR – Living Room
BSMT – Basement
FDOOR–L – Front Door left
DR-E: Dining Room East Wall
If inserts for a room are numbered, such as LIV-1, LIV-2 etc, start to the left of the main entrance and mount them clockwise around the room.
Check around the window frame for obstructions and remove those in the way. Blinds often need to be moved forward. Provide 7/8” space behind them to slide inserts into place and still use the blind.
Installing Inserts: Turn the insert so the labels are facing the outside, lift the insert up to near the top of the window and slide its upper edges into its landing against the upper frame of the window. Push the lower insert to place with a side-to-side shimmy motion. Do not force the inner film against latches on double-hung windows; adjust the insert so that film just clears the latch. A stiff spatula is very helpful to jockey an insert left or right for its final adjustment. A gentle pass along these edges can also help seat the foam edging flat against its landing.
How do I clean my inserts?
Cleaning Inserts: Plastic film attracts dust. For removal of dust, a micro-fiber cloth or tack cloth available in paint stores can be used. Do not use bath towels or paper towels; both can scratch plastic film. If additional cleaning is needed, you can use any spray window cleaner and a micro-fiber cloth. Some have recommended using Sprayway which can be purchased at Lowes. Gentle pressure on the polyolefin areas is not harmful.
How to best remove my Inserts?
Removal: Inserts should be gently removed using a spatula or paint key or pull tab. Inserts made starting in 2022 should have a simple “pull tab” made out of clear packing tape that was added during insert construction and is located at one of the corners of your insert. Simply pull gently on the tab to release one corner of the insert, making it easy to remove the insert from your window. When using a spatula, just slip it between the insert and the window to break the seal. When replacing the Inserts in the fall, pressure should be applied to the wood frames, not the unsupported polyolefin plastic.
Where should I store my inserts?
Storage: Plan ahead for storage. Go over the route from window to your storage location staying alert for potential snag points. Any sharp object, table edge, door latch, jewelry, tools, bolts or nails protruding from objects or walls represent a significant hazard. Try and select an area away from foot traffic – a place that will not be subject to having objects around it moved. A dry basement is often a good choice. We suggest standing them on small bubble wrap to prevent moisture from being absorbed. Behind a bookcase or the back of a closet are possibilities, but check to insure there are no sharp protrusions or snag points. Do not store in closed plastic bags. Air circulating prevents potential of mildew.
Keep in mind that it is the foam seal around the edge of the window that insures a tight fit. It’s important to try and store windows on edge leaning against each other with a small space in between. Do not store windows flat on top of each other. The supporting on-the-ground edge should be on a flat surface so that no dents are made in the foam edging. Small bubble wrap creates a moisture barrier on cement floors and a soft thin landing. Consider placing an old sheet or cloth over the windows to reduce the dust or debris that may fall on them during the time they are in storage. Post a warning sign noting the inserts vulnerability.
Consider the possibility of leaving some inserts in place during the summer months if you do not plan to open the window. However, do NOT leave inserts in skylights or other south-facing windows exposed to direct summer sun. Excessive heat trapped between the window and the insert can damage its film.
How to repair small tears & punctures?
Small tears and punctures should be repaired immediately with transparent packing tape. Common “Scotch Tape” (and equivalents) do not have sufficient adhesive strength or resistance to yellowing. If a tear is too big, the insert’s polyolefin film can be replaced for $15 each provided you drop off and pick-up the insert. Please bring stripped frames only. White tape is difficult to remove. By cutting thru the Poly to loosen it and pulling at the corner where the white tape begins gives you a better chance of striping all layers off at one time. The old white tape you can’t get off by scraping can be left in place.
Help! The plastic on my insert tore!
It’s OK! We are happy to rewrap your insert frame for just $15. Simply contact your Local Coordinator or the central office by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 207-596-3073 to arrange this.
What if there is a fire and I need to get out the window?
If your insert removal tool is not handy, simply tear through the plastic with your hands or any nearby object with a sharp edge or corner.
I want to order inserts. How soon can they be delivered?
WindowDressers is a nonprofit organization and our process is a little different than ordering through Amazon. Please read through the entire Process page to understand our process which includes:
- Trained volunteers making a house call to measure your windows.
- Your participation in the local Community Build where your inserts are made.
- You pick up your inserts at the end of the Community Build.
- Please see our listing of Community Build to find the one nearest you.
What’s a Community Build?
It’s like an old-fashioned barn-raising for inserts! Members of the community gather together for several days to build all of the inserts that have been ordered in their community. Experienced volunteers teach new volunteers, food is provided, and the end results are high-quality inserts at a very affordable price and a stronger, more connected community. Your participation in the Community Build is an essential part of our program.
How much time should I plan to give to the Community Build?
Our participatory model is how we keep prices so low. Participation is built into our price structure. We ask that you give one half-day shift for every 3 to 5 inserts you are receiving. You can recruit family and friends to help towards your time contribution. There are several different jobs that are easily learned and accessible to a wide range of ability and mobility levels.
I can’t participate in the Community Build because I’m disabled / home-bound / working, can I still get inserts?
We try to find a suitable job for every participant. Some jobs can be done seated. Some can be done from home. Many builds offer evening or weekend hours for working participants. If we cannot find a suitable job for you, we ask you to try to find a friend or family member who can participate in your stead. If that’s not possible, ask your Local Coordinator about a participation waiver.
I would like to bring a Community Build to my community. How do I do that?
We’re glad to hear you’re interested in bringing WindowDressers to your community!
Please contact our customer service line at 207-596-3073 or email us at email@example.com.
There aren’t any Community Builds near me. Can I still get inserts?
We currently only serve customers within an reasonable drive of our Community Builds. If you live too far for our volunteer measurers to come measure your windows but you are willing to make the trip to a distant Community Build to participate and pick up your inserts, we can sign you up for our pilot program where you measure your own windows. However, we cannot guarantee the fit in this case. For more information, please contact the customer service line at 207-596-3073 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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