from fire-retardant foam — you can find them at home improvement stores — fit like a cozy undershirt in between a wall and an outlet or light switch cover and are effective at preventing unwanted drafts.
The installation of a foam outlet gasket is simple and only requires a screwdriver: turn the power off, unscrew the outlet cover/switch plate, apply sealer as directed, replace the cover/switch plate, and you’re done. If you’ve installed gaskets around unused outlets and still notice a chill, use plastic child safety plugs as an alternative.
• Flue Damper: When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper tightly closed. A chimney is designed specifically for smoke to escape to until you close it, warm air escapes 24 hours a day!
• Attic stair covers: Attic stair covers are essentially well-insulated lids or boxes designed to keep cold air in the winter and hot air in the summer relegated to the attic and can be either purchased or constructed yourself, if you’re so inclined. Prices for store-bought attic stair covers vary. Prices could go from $42 to $200 depending on the quality.
• Draft stoppers: Draft stoppers, also called draft dodgers and door snakes, are tube-shaped objects of various lengths made with fabric (often excess/scrap fabric) and filled with some kind of insulating stuffing. You’ll most often find them placed against the bottom of closed doors or on window ledges to block winter drafts from entering a room. Additionally, they come in handy when sealing off garages, basements, attics and unoccupied rooms.
• Chimney balloons: The Chimney Balloon, a reusable and durable draft-stopper — a “pillow” of sorts — is meant to be inserted and then fully inflated inside of a chimney. The Chimney Balloon comes in various sizes (be sure to do some measuring before investing) and fits snugly above or beneath the fireplace’s damper or louvre, the metal flapper device that you open and close each time you start and finish a fire. Dampers are designed to prevent heat loss but with age their ability to stop a fireplace’s “open window effect” is weakened.
• Water heater blankets: With water heating claiming as much as 25 percent of home energy bills, every little bit of insulating assistance helps. According to Energy Savers, dressing a poorly insulated water heater in a blanket can reduce standby losses by 25 to 45 percent; this translates to 4 to 9 percent savings on heating bills.
Water heater blankets are generally inexpensive, in the $20 range, but can get more costly if they offer more significant insulation. Energy Savers offers a handy dandy installation guide for electric water heaters, but be sure to follow the instructions provided with the one you purchase.