Here is a quick tip that will keep you warmer and your energy bills down.
You can install a wall plate gasket and safety plug covers for your switches and outlets.
Or you can buy a roll of 1/8" sill plate gasket at your local hardware store or home center.
Use your switch or plug faceplate as a template to trace around the gasket material. Then using a razor knife them cut out and use them for your gasket.
This quick tip is friendly not only to the environment but to your wallet as well.
Here is some information about saving energy in your house from the Department of Energy.
Home Energy Audits
A home energy audit is the first step to assess your home's energy diet and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy- efficient. An audit will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time. During the audit, you can pinpoint where your house is losing energy. Audits also determine the efficiency of your home's heating and cooling systems. An audit may also show you ways to conserve hot water. You can perform a simple energy audit yourself, or have a professional energy auditor carry out a more thorough audit. A professional auditor uses a variety of techniques and equipment to determine the energy efficiency of a structure. Thorough audits often utilize equipment such as blower doors, which measure the leakiness of the building, as well as infrared cameras, which reveal hard-to-detect areas of air infiltration and missing insulation.
You can easily conduct a home energy audit yourself. With a simple, but diligent, "walk-through," you can spot many problems with any type of house. When auditing your home, keep a checklist of areas you have inspected and problems found. This will help you prioritize your energy efficiency upgrades.
Before you attempt the following please read the caution message carefully.
CAUTION: When sealing any home, you must always be aware of the dangers of indoor air pollution and combustion appliance "backdrafting." In homes where a fuel is burned (i.e., natural gas, fuel oil, propane, and firewood) for heating, be certain the appliance has an adequate air supply. Generally one square inch of vent opening is required for each 1,000 Btu of appliance input heat. When in doubt, contact your local utility company, energy professional, or ventilation contractor. EREC has additional information about indoor air quality and appliance safety.
Locating Air Leaks
First, make a list of obvious air leaks (drafts). The potential savings in fuel from draft reduction may range from 5% to 30% per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterwards.
Check for indoor air leaks such as gaps along the baseboard or edge of the flooring, and at junctures of the walls and ceiling. Check to see if air can flow through electrical outlets, switch plates, window frames, baseboards, weather-stripping around doors, fireplace dampers, attic hatches, and wall- or window-mounted air conditioners. Look for gaps around pipes and wires, electrical outlets, foundation seals, and mail slots. Check to see if the caulking and weather-stripping are applied properly (no gaps or cracks), and are in good condition.
Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. See if you can rattle them, since movement means possible air leaks. If you can see daylight around door and window frames, then the door or window leaks. You can usually seal these leaks by caulking or weather-stripping them. Check the storm windows to see if they fit and are not broken. You may also wish to consider replacing your old windows and doors with newer, high-performance ones. If new factory-made doors or windows are too costly, you can install low-cost plastic sheets over the windows.
If you are having difficulty locating leaks, you may want to conduct a basic building pressurization test. First, close all of the exterior doors, windows, and fireplace flues. Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters. (Remember to turn them back on when you are done with the test.) Then turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms. This increases infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect. You can use incense sticks or your damp hand to locate these leaks. Moving air causes the smoke to waver, and you will feel a draft when it cools your hand.
On the outside of your house, inspect all areas where two different building materials meet. For example: inspect all exterior corners; where chimneys and siding or brick meet; and areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet. You should plug and caulk holes or penetrations for faucets, pipes, electric outlets, and wiring. Look for cracks and holes in the mortar, foundation, and siding, and seal them with the appropriate material. Check the exterior caulking around doors and windows, and see whether exterior storm doors and primary doors seal tightly.
We hope these tips help keep you comfortable and your energy bills low.