Heat efficiency, shrinking plastic systems, and stupid blinds?

I burned a lot of oil last winter heating this place, and freed up a lot of space in my wallet, space which was of considerably less value than what had filled it.

I share a 4-5 BR house, 2 stories + a basement, with some other guys, and we have many old crappy wooden window frames.

My first question is just a very general request for advice and facts I should know about making this place as efficient as possible, as inexpensively as possible (I’m a renter whose lease is up in a year).

My more specific second question is about those plastic sheets that you put over windows and shrink with a hair dryer.
-Do these make big difference?
-Where can I get them? (I assume places like Target, Walmart, Home Depot?)
-We have a lot of windows in this place. Do I buy one for each window individually or are they sold in larger quantities? Are they expensive?
-Are certain brands superior to others?

My most specific 3rd question concerns my blinds and the plastic stuff. It would seem that the plastic would seriously restict my access to the blinds. Well, make that “completely restict…” I’d kinda like to avoid having my blinds stuck in one position for the next 3 months, particularly in my street-level room where I like having both the option of some er… alone time, while also being able to check who just pulled up into the driveway on occasion.
Assuming these plastic products don’t include some ingenious control for this problem, what if I were to puncture a hole in the top left corner of the plastic sheet to let the tilt rod through? How much would this affect heat loss? It seems like it would probably be small enough to be practically negligible, particularly since I only intend to do it for one of my room’s 3 windows, but I figured I’d put it here first to see if any disagree, or simply have better solutions.

I use the plastic each winter; it does a great job of keeping the house warmer. Once it’s up, you can’t feel any air getting through.

However, I use the outdoor version. Their harder to find (get 3M, not the other kind, too, which has bad tape that you can’t get off). I only have to do 4-5 windows; it takes about 15 minutes each. Been doing it for over 20 years and only lost one. I get mine at Home Depot or Sears Hardware (more often at the Sears; they have better selection even though the store is about a quarter the size).

These would solve your problem of blinds on the first floor, though. Put 'em up on the outside and the blinds can go up and down. You just need a stepladder, some rubbing alcohol, and scissors to cut things.

BTW, you can puncture a small hole; in fact, it’s recommended to prevent condensation.

I got a new question, but I figured it’d make more sense to just put it here rather than start a new thread.

As I understand it, the purpose of the plastic is to create a layer of insulating air between the outside and inside. Some of my windows have storms, and some even seem to be two plates of glass about a half inch apart within the same frame. Is the plastic of any significant benefit in these cases? Of course, unless these double windows are 100% efficient there’s always room for improvement, but does anyone have a rough idea of the actual percentages involved? Because I have a lot of windows in this place and I’d just as soon not waste my time if the additional benefit isn’t worth it.

BTW, thanks RC. I bought both indoor and outdoor ones and have used both in various places so far (mostly outdoor). I didn’t see 3M in Home Depot and I can tell this tape is gonna be a bitch come spring. :frowning:

about removing that tape, painters sometimes use a hair dryer to soften the muscilage on stubborn peices of trim tape before removing, this also minimizes the chance of pulling off paint under the tape.

Other things to look at, but since you rent you may not be able to do much about it, is uninsulated vents in the crawlspaces/basement, air leaking from the vents (not applicable w/ hot water or steam systems).

Also you may consider space heaters either electric or kerosene to heat only the room you are using.