Do the little outlet insulators really save any money?

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by CrzyforPiglet, Sep 25, 2008.

  1. CrzyforPiglet

    CrzyforPiglet <font color=CC33FF>You bring a smile the to the Ta

    Sep 12, 2001
    So we recently moved into our dream house and as much as I love it I'm getting nervous on how much its going to cost to heat so I'm trying to think of any way big or small to keep heating costs down! Other than getting my husband used to wearing sweaters more (he hates a cold house) so that I can keep the temperature down I am going to get pipe insulators for the hot and cold water pipes from the water heater. The next thing I thought of were those little foam outlet insulators that you put behind the switchplate. Of course before I go through the trouble of doing all that I was wondering if anyone knew if it was worth the effort? I'm thinking if it is worth the trouble it may be one of those costs you recoup over time which is fine but I guess I'm having a hard time thinking you really lose that much heat through an outlet. Any thoughts?!?
  2. jax677

    jax677 DIS Veteran

    Apr 20, 2004
    From what I understand its not that you lose heat thru there its that cold comes in. In the winter put your hand up to an outlet on an outer wall and see if you feel cold coming in. We did and put them in and we don't feel much cold coming thru.
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  4. kayla87

    kayla87 Mouseketeer

    Jun 12, 2008
    I did just a little bit of research on these, as I'd never heard of them. At first I thought, if hot air can disappear through a coverplate, it can disappear through drywall. But, I guess they're mainly for outlets on exterior walls. Will something like that save you money on a heating bill? I would have a hard time believing that. But, if you feel drafts coming from them, it would probably be worth it.

    Before you did that though, it would probably be most cost-effective to restrip your outside doors. My parents live in a new house, but had an awful breeze practically coming in from outside.

    If it's feasible, also look into how landscaping can help you find a long term solution. Evergreens at your north can help block cold winter wind from slamming your house full force.
  5. clh2

    clh2 <font color=green>I am the Pixie Stick NARC at my

    Jul 15, 2003
    I used to live in an OLD house, and YES, YES the outlet insulators make a difference. We used to have frost building up on the inside of the outlet covers. It probably depends where you live...but if you can feel a cold draft coming probably should get them insulated.

    ***We live in Wisconsin FWIW.
  6. cndij

    cndij Mouseketeer

    May 14, 2008
    I think it's mainly the hot pipes coming away from the water heater you want to insulate to keep the water in the pipes coming to your faucet hotter. Have you checked into using some other kind of supplimental heat? Wood stove in the basement etc? Are your appliances all energy efficient?

    I went through this whole scenario 2 years ago, when we bought a much bigger house and moved my husband's parents and the 3 granddaughters they are raising in with us. I was very worried about utility bills.
    We replaced all the light bulbs in the house with the little corkscrew flourescents, replaced all the toilets and shower heads with water saver models, got a large tankless gas hot water heater, bought high capacity energy efficient washer and gas dryer. It was already pretty well insulated and had a new heat pump system in place. We also have a woodstove with blower downstairs we use to suppliment for heat when it's really cold (it actually gets a little too warm upstairs.

    Just some of the savings ideas I have.
  7. semo233

    semo233 DIS Veteran

    Feb 12, 2008
    Because there is no/little insulation behind the plugs and switch plates, you do tend to have the cold coming in.
    Check with your electric/utility companies. They sometimes have free energy audits so that you can find out where you are losing heat.

    Cover any really drafty windows and in the wall AC units with the clear plastic for windows. Be careful not to cover ALL windows with this.

    Can you somehow shut off the heat in rooms you do not use? I have radiators and can close the covers so not as much heat is emitted and this helps concentrate the heat in the rooms we need it in. I also keep those doors closed.

    Insulated drapes and window shades stay closed in rooms we do not use.

    Make sure all of your windows are locked to properly seal them.

    If you have a large outside wall, consider hanging something for added insulation and decoration. Quilt, rug, curtains, etc.

    Have your furnace's efficiency checked. Have it cleaned on a regular basis.

    Check level of insulation in the attic and add some if needed. Also, make sure the entrance to your attic is properly insulated. Covers are available for the fold up/down stairs and whole house fans...or make your own.

    Just a few ideas.
    Good Luck!
  8. semo233

    semo233 DIS Veteran

    Feb 12, 2008
    Just had another thought.....
    If the loss of heat is equal to a 1/8 inch hole in the side of your house for an outlet, not that much...but add up the number of switches and outlets on outside walls. You might have the equivilent of a gaping hole in your house!!
    If you had a two inch hole you'd fix it....right?
  9. minnie1928

    minnie1928 WDW addict

    Feb 16, 2004
    FWIW, I just had my house sealed and had additional insulation put in today. They did the blower door test and the results show that we cut the air loss by a little over 20%. My house was built in 2000 and had enough insulation for code, but it was installed poorly/pathetically which made it even worse. Now we have R-50+.

    We also sealed all my recessed light cans (all 31 of them!) to help too. They said that recessed lights can be a big problem for leaks.
  10. Poohbug

    Poohbug Sherlocked

    Oct 26, 2006
    What I do in my house is plug the outlets in the outside walls with those baby safety plugs. I'm sure they are not as good as the insulation but they stop the flow of cold air coming in and help. Plus they are cheap and easy.:goodvibes
  11. eliewriter

    eliewriter eliewriter

    Jan 25, 2009
    Poohbug, you're so right, these have helped me quite a bit. Someone recommended these to me and I didn't realize how much cold air was coming in this way until I held my hand in front of the outlets along an unprotected west wall. It felt like an air conditioning duct! So the baby outlet covers have helped greatly. (I need to landscape and plant trees on the west side of the house to cut the wind there.)

    Rearranging furniture (couches a couple feet in front of windows, etc.) helps too. And rugs add an extra layer of insulation underfoot. I bought insulated Roman shades and they cut down on the cold which comes in even with energy-efficient vinyl windows.

    I also LOVE the Sunbean electric mattress pads we've put on all the beds (with down comforters only on top). You have to make sure not to bunch up blankets and definitely don't use an electric blanket on top due to fire hazards but we're good about that and the cardinal rule around here is to unplug them as soon as you're out of bed. Most of the winter we keep them on 2 out of 10 but it feels great to kick it up temporarily to heat up the covers when you climb in for the night!

    I also have friends who sweat by those new squarish black space heaters, don't recall the name but they're supposed to be energy efficient and so safe your pet can curl up on them.

    Good luck, I love our Michigan winter wonderland but sometimes you do need a few tricks to keep the heating bills manageable.
  12. maleficentmom

    maleficentmom Mouseketeer

    Jan 9, 2009
    wow, thanks i didn't know about the attic stair covers...but you are right about those foam insulation squares for outlets/switches...they help alot for outlets on outer walls:flower3:

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