Simple, Inexpensive, Money Saving, Energy Efficient Home Improvement Project: Install Outlet Covers

Once upon a time, when I thought of outlets, I just wanted to make sure that they fit well, matched my d├ęcor, and were where I plugged in my electronics and scented plug in air fresheners. As I became a parent of toddler children, I looked at outlets as a danger to protect my children from. But now, as I keep my children safe with outlet covers, I also discovered that outlet covers can save me money, energy, and are good for the environment.

Now that winter is here, many homeowners are doing what they need to do (and should have done last month, probably) to save energy and keep their home warm and toasty. We change the furnace filters, set back our clocks, check the batteries in our smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and try to find ways to make sure that our doorways and windows don’t leak out that very valuable and quite often expensive warm air from our home.

I remember my father using that stretched plastic on windows and blowing it dry to make it fit. I remember using homemade door stops made with long colorful prints in thick cloth material and filled with my mother’s old pantyhose, beans, or sand, to keep the air from coming through the door. But never did I imagine that outlet covers could also keep warm and cold air from escaping from our home, wasting money and energy.

Not sure if this is true? Try this experiment. On a cold day put your hand in front of your electrical outlet. Or better yet, unplug something and you will feel the cold draft from the outside. Now, imagine that every unused electrical outlet in your house is letting that little bit of cold seep in because it is not covered. That amount of energy loss can really add up, just as the leaky faucet does. One drop may not seem like much, but add it up over the week and you are really losing money and wasting water.

So what can an energy saving homeowner do? Consider your needs. If you are single and don’t have children visiting the house, or an older homeowner with no young children, you can spend just a few dollars on outlet cover plugs, available at most any store (Walmart, Krogers, Toy’s R Us etc) in the baby safety aisle.

If you are a parent of children, please don’t use the single outlet cover plugs that are plastic and simply fit inside the outlet. These are in the top 10 list of items your young toddler can choke on. For families of young children, consider using sliding outlet covers. These look just like your regular outlet, but no air escapes or comes in, children are safe because they can’t remove it, and they are easy to install. Simply remove the existing plate cover and screw the new one into the wall. To use the sliding outlet cover plate, which is available in both double and triple prong covers, you lightly place the plugs from your appliance into the “fake” outlet and slide it over to complete the contact with the outlet and your electronics.

Sliding outlet covers are inexpensive, decorative, come in a variety of colors, and not only keep children safe from electrical shock, they also help the environment by saving energy and help you by saving you money. Consider a small investment in sliding electrical outlet covers that can save you approximately 2% each month on your winter heating bill, when combined with weather stripping, caulking, and sealing other leaks in your home. It’s a small investment with a big return, and when it comes to saving money and energy, every little bit helps.

Visit this Youtube video tutorial on different outlet covers for more helpful information:

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