Draft-proof outlets and light switches

Why? Outlets and light switches in the walls that separate your home from the outdoors are often overlooked sources of heating loss. Draft-proofing these areas can reduce heat loss and keep your home more comfortable.
What to look for: An Underwriters Laboratories® (UL) or Canadian Standards Association (CSA) listed fire-retardant plastic foam that is pre-shaped to fit an outlet or light switch gasket (covering or seal) precisely. This item is sometimes called a "foam gasket."

Step-by-step: Draft-proofing an outlet or light switch gasket generally takes no more than 5 minutes. If you are comfortable with home improvement tasks, you should be able to do this work on your own.

 

  • Turn off the circuit attached to the outlet or switch. Do this step using your circuit breaker box or electrical panel.
  • Remove the current plate. Unscrew the screws and pull the plate away from the wall.
  • Place the foam gasket in the wall opening. Put your pre-cut or self-cut foam gasket in the exposed area. Make certain the insulation fits snugly.
  • Replace the plate. Hold the plate in place and reattach the screws.
  • Turn the power back on.
  • Install childproof plug covers into the unused outlet holes to further reduce drafts.

Good to know:

  • Materials can be found at a local home improvement retailer or hardware store.
  • If you have a larger outlet or light switch gasket — with multiple places to plug in or with switches, for example — you can overlap and trim multiple insulation patches to fit the space.

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Save up to $20 per year

Up-front costs: Less than $0.50 per outlet or light switch; about $25 per home