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insulating a switch boxAir infiltration into your house is the number one enemy of your home heating and cooling efficiency. Wall switches and electrical outlets which are located on the exterior walls of your home can serve as ports of entry for outside air. Insulating these potential thermal leaks is simple and cheap to do.

You can get inexpensive foam outlet seals at any home or hardware store. They are simple die cut foam shields which go between your outlet plate and the wire box in the wall. These foam insulators can potentially shut off air leakage entering your home from behind switches and outlets.

The process is simple and goes like this:

Insulate a switch box(click thumbnails to view gallery)

What I usedHere they are!Take it off!A matched setJust like this


  • Properly disconnect the power to where you are working.
  • Remove the cover from your switch or outlet box.
  • Select the proper foam seal and remove the cut outs.
  • Place the seal over the open face of the wire box and line up the holes.
  • Replace the switch plate or outlet cover.
You can easily insulate all of your potential air leaking outlets in one day. If you need to insulate multi-switch boxes, you can purchase the appropriate foam seals or you can create your own by duct taping single seals together. When you buy your outlet seals, be sure you get the insulating ones, not the ones for weather proofing exterior outlets. Those weather proofing seals will do the same job, but they'll cost you about three times more than the plain insulating seals. As always, please be careful about disconnecting the power when you should.

  • djlombardo

    Electrical Outlet Switch Cover Sealers/Gaskets really do work. They can reduce your heating and cooling bill by as much as 20%. They are a cheap way to retain heating and cooling in your home. If you place your hand over your outlets in the Winter on a windy day, you will feel air blowing through them. So the purpose is to seal off the outlets & switches from the living space. I found a local energy audit firm to conduct what is called a blower door test on my home. Before the sealers were installed, the outlets whistled; they leaked so bad. The tech conducted a post test after the sealers were installed and they were not only sealed, but I reduced my home's over-all air infiltration rate. Simply stated, I am now retaining my heating and cooling. What good is a high efficiency or geo-thermal system if your home cannot retain what is generated?

    I went to Home Depot and paid a fortune in small Frost King packs to do my entire home. (It cost me over $100). A couple years later I built a new home, which I had more modern switches and receptacles. I found a company that sells the "Decorator" or "Decora" Leviton switch and outlet sealers/gaskets in bulk, costing a fraction compared to those retail Frost King packs that you find at Home Depot or Lowes. I looked all over for these foam gaskets. For those of you don't know, the Decora are the fat, contemporary rocker style switches found in newer homes. They will also work on bathroom GFI outlets. I ordered them from ReduceMyEnergy.com and installed them in my home. What a BIG difference. My rooms are cozy and more comfortable too. They have already more than paid for themselves.

    Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.reducemyenergy.com/draftproducts.htm

    Reply
  • Bill Daviau

    The gaskets cannot possibly work. Receptacles themselves allow free air flow through the plug and ground penetrations. You can blow air through a receptacle. Unless the leakage is stopped at the wire entry, it is not stopped.

    Reply
  • keith

    I sealed my outlets and the air still comes right on through the plug where the cord plug goes into the socket. unless you seal the entire box youor are out of luck.


  • Toshi

    I agree with Bill & Keith. Those seals do not work. Not on the outlets and not on the switches either. I tried some. On the switches, the flip style, the cold air just blew through around the switch itself. I resorted to putting plastic over the unused outlets and switches like you would on windows. Now that works like a charm. Until you need to use the outlet or switch...

    Reply
  • 4 Comments / 1 Pages

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