Na Na pinches her pennies (aka frugal living)

Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.

Switches and outlets

If there is a hole in the wall, heat will find it’s way in or find it’s way out.  Heat always moves toward the cold.  So if it’s cold outside then your house heat will search for ways to escape to the outside.  Or vice versa if it’s hot outside and cool inside. Even very tiny places can be energy escapes routes.  What keeps the heat out can also keep it in.  I prefer to keep the winter heat where it belongs.  Inside keeping me and the furkid warm.

I realized a few days ago that one of my light switches had never had an insulation cover added to it.  This switch goes to the studio overhead lights and was put in long after the other switches and outlets had been insulated.  I saw this as a good opportunity for photos and an explanation of the process.

This is what the insulation looks like.  Just simple foam.  The cost is very little and does so much good.

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Want to know how they work?  I’ll explain it.  Construction people rarely do things perfectly.  See the small open areas along the outside of the electrical box?  A sloppy fit but who would know after the cover is placed?

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Well, let me tell ya, heat knows.  Heat looks for every possible escape route.  Even tiny slivers of space like these or nail holes in the wall. So those places should be filled in.  Here’s a better look at it after one side is filled in with plaster patch.  No plaster patch?  Use bar soap or toothpaste or play dough or paper and glue.  Whatever will fill the space and stay there.

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The insulation won’t want to stay close to the wall on the outside edges.  The switch mechanisim is usually a smidgen higher than the wall. Don’t count on the cover plate to hold it against the wall either.  What I did is put a little school glue around the outside edge of the foam insulation.

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Then put it in place against the wall.  Give it a few minutes to dry and check to be sure it stays stuck to the wall.  A tiny bit of washable glue is not gonna hurt the wall and it adds a little extra barrier against escaping heat.

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When the glue has dried then replace the switch cover.  Oh, and wash away the finger smears on the wall and patch the other tiny holes in the wall.  My daughter used to call me the queen of holes in the wall.  That was before I found command hooks.

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The small ways of blocking escaping heat can add up to significant savings IF you have lots of little places needing attention.  One thin gap of 1/4 inch by two feet long is the same as a hole the size of a brick letting heat escape.

Ok, suppose for whatever reason you simply cannot purchase the ready made insulation forms right now.  Well you can make them yourself using foam meat trays or as a temporary cover use cereal or cracker boxes.  Anything is better than nothing.  Simply trace around the cover and cut out the shape.

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