Have you ever notice how cold your outlet or switch covers are in the winter? This winter was extremely cold in the northeast. Periodically, I would go around and see if air was emanating from the outlet. Sure enough, the outlets were cold as ice.
Despite the fact my house is an Energy Star house, I know that my electrician did not install an air barrier vapor box such as one like a LESSCO or AIRFOIL box. (See the picture below of a LESSCO electrical box.) Worse, there is no insulation behind the junction box. No rigid foam or open cell foam. (See the rigid insulation behind the box?)
I know. I was an unhappy camper but it was my own fault assuming that all my subcontractors understood that I wanted an energy efficient house. Seven years ago, no one gave a darn about energy efficiency, except a few of us green folks. So as I stare at those frigid outlet which scream “darn I’ m coooold.” I swear they were shivering.
What’s a green girl to do with freezing outlets?
I have to resort to a DIYer fix. Namely, foam outlet covers bought at Loews. Installing the foam covers is easy peezy. Simply remove the outlet cover with a screw driver, pop in the foam and re-screw. You might want to turn off the power to the outlet just in case you stick the screw driver in the switch box where the exposed wires are by mistake. I am dumb enough to do this.
When you are installing the foam, notice if you feel a draft. I just changed some of my outlets. The temperature outside was in the mid-fifties. I could definitely feel a draft. Just think about winter and how much cold air is coming into your house.
Don’t do what I did. I hate that some of my plates are not flush with the baseboard. See picture at the beginning of the post where the outlet cover does not cover the hole of the electrical box? So, I tried to unscrew the outlet and move it upwards. Well, needless to say, I got a little shocked. I did notice that my hair is a little bit curlier today…
Okay, am I done? Not quite yet.
Next step is to buy children safety covers to seal up the unused plugs. If you don’t want to run to Loews or Home Depot, you can buy as many covers and child plugs as your heart desires here. (The foam is priced at 10 cents and the child safety caps are priced at 18 cents a piece.) While you are on the Conservation Mart’s site, there are also a variety of air tight covers for phone and cable jacks as well as double and triple light switches. I have a data port which is screwing blue from being cold.
The sad thing is I got rid of all those great child plugs when my kids were big enough not to put their fingers in a socket. (Seems like yesterday. In fact, it might have been yesterday?)
So, you need a designer look. I know the type.
Want to get fancy? Check out the above Cardinal Insulated Outlet Cover priced at $2.60 each. These little energy buster outlet covers not only stop the cold but keep junior’s fingers from being fried. Added bonus is that it also seals the air draft emanating from the plug area.
Now if you are a DIYer and want to make your own covers on a rainy Saturday, see my friend, Lisa’s Condo Blue’s post on how to make your own foam covers.
Don’t wait until winter to do this simple fix. You will regret it . Think Spring is for cleaning up all those cracks and crevices that suck your money down the energy drain
So, have you insulated your exterior electrical outlets and switches? Have you noticed a difference? Which product did you use?