Posted by Lorna.Doone on 17. December 2009 22:24
Oh, my, but it's been so cold here in the Northwest. For about a week the temperatures hovered around 18 degrees every day. We live in a 100+ year-old house with lots of windows, and those cold temperatures let us know just how drafty our home is. In addition to worrying about rising heat bill costs and the loss of energy, I found myself perplexed by just where some of those drafts were originating.
I was quite surprised to discover that a fair amount of that 18-degree air was entering through the outlets on the walls. I guess it had just never occurred to me that there really isn't much between those switch plates and the elements, save for a thin exterior wall. But, once I unscrewed the first plate, it became completely obvious that a lot of our draft problem was from cold air rushing in through those little boxes.
The reason we took the switch plates off was to experiment with "outlet insulators" (also called "outlet gaskets"). They were easy enough to install and didn't take anything more complex than a screwdriver for removing the outlet cover. Once one is slipped over the outlet (or switch), you simply replace the cover and are done.
The difference was immediately noticeable. So much so, that I again marveled that I hadn't thought of this earlier!
The insulators are super-cheap, with a ten-pack costing about three dollars, and it was a really easy way to keep the cold air out and lessen the strain on our furnace this winter. I guess that's just one more tiny little way to lessen our ecological footprint!