An energy waster not often considered. And it's an easy fix!
There are rules of thumb in energy wasting, and conversely energy saving.
Your house can be divided into different areas of energy wasting. And these percentages are rules of thumb:
~ About 30% of your energy is wasted through the upper-level ceiling.
~ About 30% of your energy is wasted through the walls.
~ About 30% of your energy is wasted through the windows and doors.
~ And about 10% of your energy is wasted through wall penetrations like receptacles and switches.
Keep in mind, if the upper-level ceiling was not insulated or really poorly insulated it would account for more than the 30% rule of thumb. The same would go for the walls or windows and doors.
Remember, heat seeks cold.
In the winter indoor heated air is trying, yes trying, to escape!
And in the summer outdoor heated air is trying to get inside!
It is the last item above, wall penetrations, which probably do not get enough attention by homeowners. Receptacles and switches on exterior walls, and gas fireplaces, can be huge energy wasters.
Collectively exterior wall penetrations are assigned about 10% of any home energy loss. That could be more depending on how the areas around them are treated with insulation.
The thermal image above demonstrates that this one receptacle is showing how poor insulation affects the receptacle. And that is a basement wall, with foundation wall insulation behind the receptacle!
During cold weather it is easiest to determine how well or poorly insulated wall penetrations are. Put your hand at the receptacle and see if you can feel air blowing in. Often it is dramatic.
What to do?
Foam draft stoppers can be purchased which will fit virtually any wall receptacle or switch. What you need to punch out is already outlined, and it will fit inside the receptacle and work on any draft.
And they work! On my exterior walls I have them doubled up in receptacles and switches. The draft that comes through the penetration is virtually stopped.
My recommendation: sometimes it is the little things which make a big difference. And energy savings is one thing that can be improved dramatically with attention paid to many little things. Insulation can always be added to. Draft stoppers can be installed for little money. Very old windows and doors can be replaced with new, more-efficient units. All of this adds up over time to equal improved comfort and standard of living!