What I'm Seeing Now


Do you think this energy loss all over the house doesn't add up?

Do you think this energy loss all over the house doesn't add up?

Perhaps 10% of the energy loss in your house happens through exterior wall penetrations like receptacles, switches and canister light fixtures.

Spots this poorly insulated can be a significant loss of energy over time!

Some builders will put foam around each one, but many will not.  That foam is a good insulator.

And how many wall switches, receptacles and light fixtures are in a house?

And while it isn't a swoosh of energy, often in cold weather you can actually feel air coming in through receptacle holes.

Remember, heat seeks cold.

Small holes, and gaps, and missing spots of insulation add up to significant energy losses.  And you are paying for that over time, and the problem doesn't get better.

What can you do about spots like this?

There are small foam receptacle inserts that can easily be put into each receptacle and switch plate.

While they aren't 100% effective, they are better than nothing!

They are made to fit into all sorts of different shapes of receptacles and switches.

You simply punch out the pattern desired and slip it in!

My recommendation:  if you feel air moving you are essentially feeling energy moving in or out of the house.  That has to be stopped somehow or it will be a continual thing.  Physics works every time.  Next cold day, or maybe a very hot one, put the back of your hand against a wall plate and see if  you feel air.  If so you may need to insulate it better.  The foam inserts are very cheap!  And will pay for themselves in short order.



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 12 commentsJay Markanich • March 30 2017 09:00AM


Good advice Jay and easy to do!

Posted by Dennis Swartz, MBA, GRI...experience counts! (Full Circle Property Management) over 3 years ago

Interesting. I'm going to have to look for the foam inserts.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) over 3 years ago

My old 1920's stone home had plenty of escape routes for the heat. The more you correct them the easier it was to identify the leaks. Wish I had an infrared camera at the time.

Posted by Kevin J. May, Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida (Florida Supreme Realty) over 3 years ago

Good advice on the importance of sealing off those cold spots. Thanks, Jay!

Posted by Nathan Gesner, Broker / Property Manager (American West Realty and Management) over 3 years ago

Good morning Jay. It is the little things that can add up to big energy savings! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) over 3 years ago

Good morning Jay. This is so true and is costly. I live in a very old home and it's difficult but I'm working on it.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 3 years ago

You pay to condition the air... so why not keep it as long as possible? The inserts are a good idea. I have been running into a string of uninsulated skylight wells lately... it gets me that the insulation guys do not notice or pay attention to that stuff! Well, not that surprised...

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 3 years ago

Jay Markanich Here, we so often just throw energy at it because of our cheap electrical rates. We really need to be better at prevention here.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Thanks Dennis.  Yes, it only takes minute!

Kat - I found the ones I used on Amazon.

Kevin - you would probably have been horrified!  Might still be now!  Mighty Mo loves projects like that!

We try, Nathan, we really try!  Thank you.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Wayne - I find that if the little things have had attention paid to them then the big things are well done.

Sheila - wish I could help from here!  But alas...  If you have specific questions or photos of something you have a question on please contact me.

Fred - about half the skylights I see are missing insulation, or it has fallen from around the sides.  The images are clear.  What a huge energy whoosh out that cavity!

Don - you sound like the whole country did before the Arab Oil Embargo in what, 74?  Oil prices quadrupled overnight.  That's when all the new energy focus began to take hold.


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Jay, We certainly had some receptacles in our home doing exactly what you point out.  We added the foam inserts and that certainly helped.  It's an easy and quick thing to do, especially if you've got a cordless screwdriver charged up.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 3 years ago

Bliz - it isn't a perfect solution, but goes a long way toward one.  On a couple of receptacles I doubled the foam, which also helped.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

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