Child Proof Your Electrical Outlets to Cut Energy Costs

Sticking a simple child proof plug into your electrical outlets could save you 5% on your energy bill this year. Who knew that doing something to protect your kids could also protect your bank account!

I discovered this child proofing fact after hiring a certified energy adviser through the Canadian ecoACTION program to evaluate my home. After running a few air leakage tests on my windows, doors, and walls, my energy adviser found that the electrical outlets facing the exterior walls were the biggest leaky culprits, costing me 2% to 5% in energy losses per year! Chances are, YOUR exterior electrical outlets are energy sucking leakers too!

happy_dog_outlet

To plug the energy drain and increase your energy efficiency, try this simple and inexpensive DIY trick using foam insulation gaskets and outlet plugs – you might just get shocked by your savings! I know my dog was stunnified!

5 EASY STEPS: how to install electrical outlet gaskets and child proof plugs!

1. Turn the power off.

Go find your circuit breaker(s) and cut the power to your exterior facing electrical outlets. Be sure to test your outlet by plugging in a lamp to see if the power is really off. Getting zapped is no fun. Seriously.

2. Remove the outlet cover.

Grab a standard flat head screwdriver and remove the electrical outlet cover. Any simple multi-bit screwdriver should have a bit that will work.

remove_outlet_cover

3. Grab a foam gasket.

Standard insulating foam gaskets can be purchased at your local hardware store for about 25 cents each. I got mine in a bulk package and used the whole bag for every exterior facing outlet in my home.

Just pop the center piece and screw holes out.

energy_costs1

And then place the gasket over your outlet for maximum insulating savings.

energy savings

Foam gaskets can help prevent heat from leaking outside in the winter and cool air from escaping through the outlets in the hot summer months.

4. Replace outlet cover.

Place the outlet cover over the foam gasket and use your screwdriver to, um, well, screw your cover back in place. Carl likes to line up his screws vertically so they match. He’s insane about the details. He’s insane about most things, actually.

energy_savings2

5. Stick a child proof plug in the socket.

Child proof plugs can be bought in sets or in bulk at any hardware store. I bought a package of 24 plugs for under $4. Just grab a plug and stick it in any unused outlets.

child_proof_plug

That’s it! This simple do-it-yourself project took me less than a hour, cost me less than $20, and could save me hundreds in energy bills over the years. My silly dog Pivo is just thrilled with my savings – can’t you tell?

dog_electrical_outlet

If you loved this tip then check out my new book – 397 Ways To Save Money and save thousands this year!

Got an energy saving trick that doesn’t break the bank?

Your two cents:

  1. Beth May 11th, 2009

    Great tip! Your dog is so adorable!

  2. Hayden Tompkins May 11th, 2009

    I LOVE this idea. We’re in the process of doing some inexpensive attic insulation (hello R30!) but there’s almost no point in insulating what would leak out your walls!

  3. RC@Thinkyourwaytowealth May 11th, 2009

    Great tip! I have put the insulation in several outside wall outlets, and currently have child proof plugs in most floor level outlets (since I have a 2 1/2 yr. old), but never put 2 and 2 together- will have to do the rest of the outer wall outlets as well.

  4. TStrump May 11th, 2009

    Great tip … and cute dog!

  5. marci May 12th, 2009

    To save even more money, if you have access to those styrofoam egg cartons, or to take out styrofoam food cartons, or to thin styrofoam shipping panels, the insulation pieces can be cut out of them. Works just as well, but you have to punch out your own holes, which is no biggie.

  6. Aman@BullsBattleBears May 12th, 2009

    nice tip! something to obviously so simple to do yet I’d never have considered!

    When you say you got them in bulk, was it from the “Big Box” retail stores?

  7. Carl May 12th, 2009

    @Marci: Egg carton foam is *probably* safe, but I’d still stick with foam gaskets made specifically for this. If there was ever a fire, your insurance company might give you a hard time if they found out.

    The foam gaskets we bought – with UL & CSA certification – were so cheap that they should pay for themselves in under a year.

  8. Kerry May 12th, 2009

    @Adman I bought in bulk from a large hardware store chain. ;)

    @RC I was surprised too with how much heating or cooling escapes through the outlet plugs and around the outlet socket. The outer walls are the leakiest of the leaky. ;)

    @Hayden Tompkins I think I might have an attic insulation post coming up soooooon! ;) Attics can be drafty and expensive energy money sucks.

    @Beth @TStrump The dog is the real star in my family…I’m just the dog walker. :D

  9. FupDuckTV May 12th, 2009

    Great tip. I personally like the metal childproof caps. They are alittle more expensive, but they are worth it. I’m actually building a house right now and I am insulating the crap out of it. BTW, you can get this job done alot faster if you skip that first unnessicary step.

  10. Four Pillars May 12th, 2009

    Nice post – I agree with FDTV, I don’t think it’s possible to get any shocks by just taking the cover off.

  11. DavidV May 13th, 2009

    Is it the gasket or the plugs that really give the savings? I’d be happy to do the gasket, but I don’t have any children and don’t want to give visiting women the wrong idea! ;-)

  12. Kerry May 14th, 2009

    @FupDuckTV and @Four Pillars Carl laughed at my turning the circuit breaker off to insulate the outlets. I just feel safer. ;)

    @DavidV LOL Good question! The answer depends on the gap size cut into your wall for the outlet. In my case, the electrician cut a good sized hole into my wall – which really leaked. From a cost perspective the gaskets cost less than the plugs so you’d see quicker savings (based on price) by going the gasket route. If you decided to do the child proof plugs too you could just tell your lady friends that you’re a good uncle. ;)

  13. dawger911 May 15th, 2009

    Your dog rules!

  14. Kate May 21st, 2009

    LOVE the dog and the tip! I had no idea that such a small change could net such tangible savings. There’s just one more example of the amazing Power of Small.

  15. Rob November 29th, 2010

    I bought the foam and plugs bulk online a few months ago, and today it was crazy windy so I got to do some before/after testing. Amazing how much of a breeze blows in through those little outlet holes and through the gaps.

    After the foam – nothing.

    BTW – I know that in this age of fear and lawsuits you have to say “turn the power off”, but seriously – you’d have to be trying hard to shock yourself. The whole operation on one outlet shouldn’t take more than 60 seconds – 45 seconds of which is unscrewing and screwing the two screws…

  16. Peter April 6th, 2011

    Canadian Electrical Code (CEC) requires that all plugs now installed in new houses must be child/tamper resistant. Just an FYI.

  17. TIPIT December 13th, 2012

    “Carl likes to line up his screws vertically so they match. He’s insane about the details. He’s insane about most things, actually.”

    haha I love it! I do the same ;)

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with a "*".

*

*

Technorati Profile