Switchplate and Outlet Gaskets

Stop cold air leaking through electical outlets.

Outlet GasketsElectrical outlets and light switches are a small but significant source of air leaks. This is because they are cut right into the wall and often don't have much insulation around them. For outlets on exterior walls, this can be costly over time. There are also comfort considerations if you sit next to an outlet that is leaking cool air.

I took the temperature above, below, and on the wall next to several outlets in my house and found differences of a few degrees on about half of the outlets. The bottom of the outlet was the coldest where the heavier, colder air was leaking in. I also used smoke from a stick of incense which confirmed that cold air was entering through the outlet.

Using Outlet Gaskets to Stop Air Leaks

To remedy the situation I used electrical foam outlet gaskets which came in a window plastic insulation kit I purchased. (They're also available separately.)

Outlet Gasket and FaceplateTo install the foam gasket you just remove the outlet faceplate and put the outlet insulation on securely. Then put the faceplate back on and you're done.

Be sure to push the gasket in so it fits securely around the outlet. This will prevent air from leaking in.

Overall, the electrical outlet gaskets were effective and stopped much of the air leaking into the house. There were a few outlets where the outlet itself needed to be pushed in further so the faceplate and gasket formed a good seal.

You only need to insulate outlets and light switches that are on exterior walls.

If you're uncomfortable working around electricity you can shut the power off at the circuit breaker before installing the outlet insulation.

You can use smoke from a stick of incense (candles don't work well and are can easily start a fire) to identify the problem electrical outlets and fix those first.

A Low Cost Solution

Outlet gasket on faceplate. Since the gaskets are inexpensive (usually under $5 for enough to to the entire house), it's a low-cost solution and an easy energy saving task.

You'll want to address bigger tasks like fixing leaking windows, setting your water heater to 120F, or checking your attic insulation as well. Visit our home energy checklist for a prioritized list of energy saving projects.