You’re big into saving energy. But, of course, you prefer to do what you can to preserve our planet, and that you can usually save on your energy bills is just the icing on the cake.
Lately, you’ve heard a lot about outlet insulator gaskets and how they can save energy.
But is it true?
If you want to learn more about outlet insulator gaskets before you spend money to install them in your home, you’ve come to the right place. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be able to decide whether these gaskets are the best choice for you!
And if you want to see what you could save by installing these, we created an Outlet Insulator Energy Savings Calculator here as well.
Do Outlet Insulator Gaskets Save Energy?
Outlet insulator gaskets can reduce cooling and heating costs by around 5-10%. This occurs by reducing air leaks throughout the home, as an outlet insulator gasket covers the outlet’s sizeable holes. There is an average of 75 outlets per home in the USA.
What Is an Outlet Insulator Gasket? How Does It Work?
Okay, so first things first. When we talk about an outlet insulator gasket, what in the world do we mean by that?
Well, think of how a typical outlet works. It features a faceplate that reveals open holes in a specific configuration, size, and width so you can insert a plug for a lamp, TV, or maybe a laptop.
Yet what’s going on behind the faceplate? There’s more open space, and it’s usually uninsulated too.
Enter the outlet insulator gasket. The gasket goes within that open space and is supposed to reduce draftiness coming from your household outlets.
You can use an outlet insulator gasket only for the outlets you notice are drafty (you’ll have to stand in front of the outlet and feel for air to ascertain that) or even every outlet in your home. After that, it’s up to you.
Most outlet insulator gaskets feature a foam component that fills the available space.
Due to what’s known as the stack effect, we’d recommend beginning with outlet insulator gaskets and adding more gap sealing measures as you go.
What is the stack effect, you ask?
When the stack effect is at play, warm air that lingers on the upper floors of your home travel outside of the home through any faulty seals and openings, be that gaps in the plumbing, the windows, the attic doors, frame holes, etc.
The warm air exits, generating a vacuum that sucks up more air from the home’s lower floors. This air comes from openings as well but on the lower level. Think sheathing and framing cracks, doors and windows, and furnace or dryer vents.
Thus, when you feel cool, drafty air from your outlets downstairs, thanks to how the stack effect works, you know that the air isn’t only exiting from the outlet.
This allows you to close up gaps and holes more strategically.
My Own Quick Story Using Outlet Insulator Gaskets
I’ve renovated two houses (One in St. Petersburg, FL and the other in Cape Coral, FL) in the past three years, both engineered to include energy efficiency first, then solar, to be fully netzero including powering an electric car.
Why do I mention those first? Well, to really cut down on the amount of solar you need, you tackle efficiency first. And air sealing is the highest priority (and cheapest) item you should probably start with.
This is because efficient HVAC, insulation, and all the rest doesn’t really do much if your conditioned air is leaking out of the house anyway. It’s a constant uphill battle.
This is where these outlet insulation pads come in. They are plugging up dozens of big holes in your house for relatively cheap.
I bought a 100-pack and after two 3-bedroom homes done, I still have about 25 left. So you can see how many outlets (giant air-gap holes) we actually have in our houses.
If you can stop most of the airflow coming into your living space through the walls with these, it makes a difference both in energy savings and indoor comfort.
How Much Energy Does an Outlet Insulator Gasket Save?
Before officially closing every gap in your house, let’s say that you want to start with the outlets first. If you decide to proceed with adding an outlet insulator gasket or several, how much energy can you expect to save?
According to green resource Norwex Movement, the answer is up to 20%.
That’s quite a lot of money to shave off your monthly heating and cooling bill just by making one slight change to the outlets in your home!
Now, we should note that Norwex’s figure does not state how many outlet insulator gaskets you need to achieve 20% savings. We would guestimate that the more you have, the better.
Move.org, a moving resource, estimates that the cost of the monthly utility bill for the average American is $114.44 per month. At that price, if it stayed consistent over the year, you’d spend $1,373.28 anually.
Of course, the average electricity bill does not stay consistent due to things like running the air conditioner a lot in the summer and holiday lights in the winter, but we’ll say it does for this example.
By taking 20% off your monthly electric bill of $114.44, you’re shaving $22.88—now your monthly bill is only $91.56.
Once again, assuming your electric bill costs hold throughout the year, you’d pay only $1,098.72 for your annual electricity costs.
That’s $274.56 in savings yearly just by upgrading to outlet insulator gaskets alone. We told you it’s quite a significant amount of savings!
How Much Do Outlet Insulator Gaskets Cost?
Besides how much money they can save you, outlet insulators are highly valued for another reason—how inexpensive they are.
Suppose you’re only adding the gaskets (and that’s all you should need considering your household outlets already have the other necessary components). In that case, a new outlet insulator gasket costs you just a few dollars each.
According to Coyne College, the average household has 75 electrical outlets.
If you added outlet insulator gaskets to every outlet in your home, you might only spend $10 to $20 or a little bit more. Check out the section below on where to get them.
How to Install Outlet Insulator Gaskets
You’ve decided to pick up some outlet insulator gaskets, and you’re ready to install them.
Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
Besides the gaskets themselves, you’ll also need a pair of scissors and a screwdriver.
Step 2: Power Down the Breakers
You don’t want any active breakers while tinkering with your outlets, as that can lead to electrical shock. Go to your home’s circuit breaker and turn off the appropriate breakers.
Step 3: Remove the Outlet Faceplate
You should only need a screwdriver to undo the screws holding most outlet faceplates on the wall. Keep the screws handy, as you’ll need them again later.
Step 4: Install the Outlet Gasket Insulator
With your gasket in hand, align it over the holes of the exposed outlet. The sockets should still be fully accessible.
If your gasket doesn’t fit, you can always use the scissors to trim it down to size.
Step 5: Put the Outlet Faceplate Back On
Once the gasket is in position, it’s time to restore the outlet faceplate. If you kept the screws nearby, you just have to tighten them until the faceplate is secure.
Step 6: Repeat
It only takes a few minutes to get each outlet insulated, so go through and repeat steps one through five for every outlet in your home that you’re interested in adding a gasket to.
Step 7: Enjoy the Savings!
You’re all done, so put away your tools, reward yourself for your hard work, and watch your monthly electricity bills in the coming months. They should soon begin falling.
Outlet insulator gaskets go behind the faceplate of an outlet and block all the uninsulated open space where drafty air can escape.
By sufficiently insulating the outlets in your home, you can save as much as 20% on your monthly heating and cooling costs. That’s quite an enormous amount of savings for such a small change!
Outlet insulator gaskets are inexpensive to procure, costing less than a dollar in some cases and a couple of dollars at most.
Even better, you can easily install outlet insulator gaskets at home, wrapping up the entire house in an afternoon.
A fast, easy, effective DIY project? You’ll want to get started right away!