This little home update officially kicks off our Ace Hardware partnership this year, and for that, we are so happy and thankful! We’ve always had such a great time working with the team behind that name, and we love that although they provide us with month-to-month post guidelines, they allow us to choose the projects that are relevant to our home and current projects. To start, they’ve asked us to share a seasonal maintenance task around our home, and being that it’s February in Chicago (and because we’re still picking up on this old house’s quirks), we have a quick tip that has made a huge impact in keeping our rooms just that much warmer.
Having lived in our well insulated condo for 7 years prior to this home, we were absolutely, hands down, spoiled by our low cost gas and electric bills. (Last year, our friends that live in that yellow-brick-building never, ever turned on their heat – at all. Living on the third floor, they reaped the benefits of the rising heat from the units below them!) But since moving into this home, we’ve sprayed foam in every crack and crevice, patched up old cable holes, and as we update every old outlet and switch, we’ve been cushioning them with little coats – at least, that’s what I like to call it!
A house of this age is full of winter weather surprises, and I was surprised by the amount of cold air that was working its way into our rooms. An electrical plate on its own won’t block all that freezing air.
With our kitchen electrical now complete, we first used these foam outlet seals (aka outlet coats, ha), cut them to fit, and snugged them onto all the exterior wall plugs. The seals come in any shape – rocker panels, single switch, and so on – but we picked up the standard outlet seals to cut down to size for rockers or the circular outlets, the two common sizes in our home.
With the plate in place, we capped the outlets for extra credit, and my goodness. Drafts? Gone. No more. Coming from a well insulated apartment to a drafty home, I’ve never understood just All the Ways cold air was able to slip through the cracks (literally), but it’s a small cost update that, simply put, works. Side note: These foam seals are not recommended on dimmer switches, but they work like a dream in every other scenario.
We have a bigger kitchen update to come later this week (so many scraggly ends before we can check another item off the punch list!), but to welcome another year with Ace the right way, we’ll be giving away a $100 Ace Hardware gift card to one lucky reader! Using the Rafflecopter widget below, enter as many ways as you’d like. Giveaway runs through Friday, February 20th at 5pm CST, and the winner will be announced within this post. Good luck and happy entering!
We’re excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided us with compensation and the materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own.
Ugh the draft from my outlets has been killing me too. But of course our pet doors don’t help either ;)
This is such a genius idea! My husband and I bought our first home a few months ago and it has been shocking how many ways cold air can get into your house without even realizing it. Our quick tip for winterizing our home has been a simple fix of putting up curtains – it seems like such a basic thing, but it actually works quite well to insulate our super drafty old windows.
LOVE what y’all are doing in the kitchen and can’t wait to see the next update / finished product. Thanks for this practical and oh so easy top by the way! I live in a renovated 1930s house and while it is well insulated and retains warm / cool air, I think this would make even more of an impact. Good fortunes to you both!
wow, didn’t even know these existed!
What is the reasoning behind not using them on dimmer switches? I’ve never heard that before. Also, I’ve never been able to find them for the decorator outlets like you used above. I know you cut yours to fit but do you happen to know if they make them in this size already? We can’t be the only ones needing them!
Yup, you can get them in the rocker panel shape! For the dimmer switches, it was a CAUTION on the back label – I would definitely just read the package of whatever you end up purchasing.
I used those and put foam sleeves on my water pipes in the basement at my old home. I’m about to do the same to the new (very drafty and cold) home we just bought!
Thanks for the giveaway! I can’t wait to see your kitchen!!
Switching ceiling fan directions, wrapping pipes, and shutting off unused room vents
YES a thousand times to all of these! Changing the direction of our ceiling fans helps immensely.
We use those foam outlet covers downstairs. Even though our house is newer, having an exposed lower level seems to let the drafts in or they insulated poorly.
WE actually never realized how drafty a home could be until moving into our rental! We’ve had to add extra insulation underneath the sink to stop our pipes from freezing and are still having difficulty blocking the draft from our mail slot!
I’ve been meaning to do this and with the NE winter raging on. I’m going to stop procrastinating and get this done tonight! Thanks for the inspiration.
On the topic of insulation, can you/readers provide recommendation on how to add insulation to the base of the windows? Is it as easy as drilling a small hole and filling it with foam insulation?
Lucy, we’ve been (slowly) redoing the window frames and ledges around every window in this house, so we started by taking off whatever was there (if anything), and filling the gaps with the foam insulation. I think the trick is to get a nice line all along the bottom and sides if necessary, rather than small areas here and there. HOWEVER, if you don’t want to take apart your window ledges (who would?), then any little bit helps! I will say that seeing the bare window will help you to see where the gaps are and what the best course of action would be.
Does anyone else have any recommendations?
Moving into a new drafty house this week–definitely planning on doing this!
I have the foam thingies, but haven’t tried the caps. The air just pours through our uninsulated walls, so I’ll have to get those, too!
these are great! we just re-caulked around all of our windows. we live in an older home and are working to make it more efficient, so until we can replace the windows we settle for re-caulking and leaving towels on all the windowsills. not super glamorous but it does make a difference! that is until our bloodhound takes the towel to play with.. :/
And we have yet to turn our heat on this winter. It’s fantastic, but it’s also making me very leery of that first winter time gas bill once we move out of our cozy condo. When the time does come, we’ll keep this tip in mind … thanks for sharing! :)
That is incredible. There are definitely times when we miss our condo for these simple little pleasures! Hope to see you SOON (we missed you this past weekend!).
What a genius idea! We just replaced several outlet covers and never thought of this. Will be sharing this post with my handy hubby!
That is such a genius idea – I’ve never even heard of something like that before. The extent of my winterizing is shoving a door mat under the drafty front door. I live in an older home, but I rent. We just keep the house fairly cool and wear sweaters, ha. It helps that the winter out here in the West has been ridiculously warm and easy!
I did this in each of my last 2 homes and it may have been the single best comfort improvement I made. Totally eliminated that little winter chill that I’d notice while just sitting and watching TV at night. LOVE this solution!
This is SO perfectly timed! We live in the TUNDRA west of Boston and although we have a pretty well insulated house we noticed last weekend that there is a little draft from the light switches next to our front door and the door in our kitchen. The one in the kitchen is 3 switches..1 of which is a dimmer. So these would be a no-go for that switch plate?
We have a dimmer in our entryway too, and it’s part of a 3 switch panel. We used the “coats” on the two switches that were NOT dimmers, which helped a lot! Just make sure to read the package of whatever outlet seals you buy. Ours had a word of caution against dimmers.
Great–we’ll probably try that. Thanks!
We are very diligent about winterizing our sprinkler system. We don’t know what we would do if it broke since it is so helpful to have it working when we are trying to grow grass!
Boy do I feel you! We moved into a 2,000 sqft home (built in 1911) and it is SO drafty – even with all new windows! I’ve never heard of these before, but I’m definitely going to look into them. Thank you! :)
Ah! This is so helpful! We have just a 500 square foot apartment and our heating bill has been far higher than it should. I’ve been painting every room and as I removed all the plates, I couldn’t believe how much cold air was coming in. I’ll definitely be using this.
Until we can replace our gigantic 1950 picture window we are using plastic for an extra layer. During the past few blizzards you can hear and see the plastic bowing inward from the drafts.
Ooh, what a great tip. We’re about to schedule an energy audit of our (entire) house, and this is a small effort that probably has a good-size impact on energy conservation. Thank you for sharing! (and for the giveaway!)
Your tips and tricks never cease to amaze me! And coming from someone who is always cold but hates to see that heating bill climb, this is so great to know!
Man, I live in an old house, too, and I never would’ve thought of doing this!
All I know is we plan to completely renovate our kitchen this year and we could use this gift card!
Oh, how exciting! I better see photos, woman!
We just had the power company come out and give us a free audit and some swag to help with winterizing – those power covers were in the kit! We need to get on sealing cracks around the doors and windows!
it’s c-c-c-cold in maine as well. i’ve used these little outlet ‘coats’ and they do make a difference!
thanks for the great give away…
I used to live in a “sandwiched” apartment and I rarely turned my heat on either. I bought my first house during the summer last year and I’m fortunate that – even thought its an old house – it’s small enough and well insulated enough that my heating bills have been reasonable.
I have an old farm house in WI that my husband and I are renovating need to but coats on my outlets too.
Not quick – but we replaced our windows & front door this year and it has made SUCH a difference, and I was so surprised at how affordable it was!!! Especially with the rebates from our local utility company!!!!
Since moving into my 1960’s home, I have also learned about the benefits of outlet coats.
That’s a great tip! I’m always trying to find all the little ways that air gets in, and I didn’t know that this was one of them!
We’re in Texas so the cold never becomes too much of an issue. I had no idea outlet coats were even a thing!
What a clever tip! Would never have thought to do that, but it makes sense.
This is such a great idea! I am looking to replace our windows on our 110+ year old home. Looking forward to seeing that change.
Ah, drafts…our 7 year old windows were falling out of their frames for the past 12 months, and we FINALLY got new windows about three weeks ago. Amazing how much easier it is to get out of bed in the morning when your bedroom isn’t 50 degrees!
we change the heater filters and run ceiling fans reversed
I put these throughout our house and they do make a big difference!
Im very bad in this area. Our home was built in 1923, so we should do something for sure about better insulation. Thanks for the awareness on this.
We block all the vents in rooms we hardly use to direct the heat to our bedroom and living room. Also a space heater is our best friend! Thanks for the giveaway :)
What a perfectly timed article! My husband and I just became first-time homeowners and are completely renovating our house that we just bought. We’ve actually JUST started on upgrading the electrical in the kitchen.. I’ll have to suggest these to him as the house is quite drafty!
I’m taking a peek through your blog and can’t wait to follow along on your adventure! That house was BRIGHT. Wow!
We now live in a very nicely built house that’s already heat & energy efficient, thank goodness! But, one trick we do is close the blinds on the windows each night to give ourselves just a wee bit little extra insulation – keeping the warm air in our rooms just a little bit longer!
That’s a good tip too. We keep our blinds closed in all the rooms we’re not using, and we close the others before we go to bed at night. Makes a big difference!
We did this when we moved into our new house. Every little bit helps!
We called our energy company for an energy audit and they included so many wonderful little things to make our home more efficient, and “outlet coats” were one of them. Seal any cracks, our home is less than 10 years old but they did a poor job on our bonus room above the garage. We sealed a 3 in x 10 ft gaping hole under our heat registers.
That’s cool. Living in Southern California, I’ve never even thought about this.
Great tip! I am moving from a one room apartment on the 2nd floor to a 3 bedroom townhouse in a month – winter in Minnesota! So any ideas to save money on utilities are great! The only thing I’ve come up with so far is to wear a hoodie and slippers everywhere!
Since we have a wood burning stove, we don’t use our propane furnace in the winter. I put plastic under all the heating vent covers. Keeps out so much cold air!
Those are great – I’ve never seen them before. I’m definitely buying these – we can feel the cold air blowing in around the outlets in our house.
My husband put these in our house and they definitely help with keeping the air out!
We lived in an old home for 7 years and it was terribly drafty! It would be interesting to see how big of a difference this would make in that house.
[…] This little home update officially kicks off our Ace Hardware partnership this year, and for that, we are so happy and thankful! We’ve always had such a great time working with the team behind that name, and we love that although they provide us with month-to-month post guidelines, they allow us to choose the projects that are relevant to our home and current projects. To start, they’ve asked us to share a seasonal maintenance task around our home, and being that it’s February in Chicago (and because we’re still picking up on this old house’s quirks), we have a quick tip that has made a huge impact in keeping our rooms just that much warmer…Read On » […]
Love ACE! I used these years ago in my older home, and totally agree how much difference they made. Thanks for the reminder!
this seems like a fire hazard, but i’ll trust you :) i’m so scared of anything electrical, but i’m gonna go for it!
I honestly thought the same thing when Scott first showed them to me. But they are UL listed, so they’re doing something right!
Is it worth it to do this on interior walls or just for outlets that are on exterior walls?
Just exterior walls. The walls that allow that cold to get in! Interior walls are fine without the little coats :)
We don’t do anything to winterize our home because winter is the nice time of year here, but the summer? Think everything you can possibly do to keep the cool air IN and the hot out (including putting the little outlet coats on.)
We did this last year in the upstairs of our old house. I really think it helped a lot and plan to finish downstairs soon!
Great idea! Our old home has lots of drafts. I need to this to our outlets. Thanks for sharing!
We use window winterizing kits for our drafty windows.
Good idea, we’re always looking for ways to keep the chill out.
My husband and I just bought our first home a few months ago and since we live in Colorado, winterizing is a pretty big priority! We have two dogs and we used to leave them access to a doggy door all night, but since this winter has been particularly cold we’ve had to switch to getting up to let them out when they ask! More work for us but it has made the house so much warmer.
My favorite winterizing tip? Live in Texas. It’s discouraging otherwise though…it’s been back and forth between 28 and 80 degrees in the same week so many times already in the last 3 months!
That’s what our friends did last year! Chicago lost a lot of good ones after that last one…!
we always make sure to drain all our outdoor hoses and turn off the water to any outdoor spicketts. I also bring my rain barrel inside. Nothing worse than things freezing and breaking!
This is genius! I have seen plates like that but I had no idea what made them different. Glad to know!
Winterizing in FL isn’t quite as dramatic but we do most of the same things – I put up heavier drapes and close them when the sun goes down to keep the heat in.
Seeing as it is 10 days until we close on a house I have little experience. Most of my experience is insulating pipes and letting faucets drip. I am going to be a learning a lot soon, I am sure.
I end up using lots of plastic over windows, for the big one. It really helps a lot.
Curious about not using the foam in dimmers… is there heat produced from the dimmer switches, is that why?
Ooops… just saw one of your earlier posts that talked about this. Thanks for the great tip – learn something new every day.
I check the caulking and add more as needed around our old windows and also have draft rugs that I add to the bottom of our doors.
Oooh, I’m in the midst of a home refresh and could use a gift card!
Can’t wait to see the next kitchen update!
Curtains make such a big difference in keeping the cold out!
Our house is so drafty! We’ll have to take a day and do this to our exterior outlets.
What a great idea! We live in an old apt building and this can definitely come in handy. When I lived in an old house a couple of years ago, I sealed the windows with the seran wrap type stuff (I wish I knew the actual name) and it made a huge difference. Also, buying a heater with a remote control was really helpful. I’d turn it on the second I woke up and wait in bed a couple minutes before i got ready for the day.
I recently moved from the heat of the desert to the cold north, winterizing a home was never anything I thought about or even knew about. But I am learning, the first thing I did was cover all my windows with insulated window coverings then covered my floors with area rugs. This tip is great, never even thought about my outlets.
We have started using the shrinkwrap window treatments for our older windows. Feeling a breeze when the window is closed, is always a bad thing!
We bought a home built on a slab foundation. Boy does the downstairs get freezing! Double honeycomb pleated blinds have helped, although they were a bit pricey. I figure they might take a few seasons to reap the harvest financially, but we will be a lot warmer in the meantime!
We live in the ‘snow jackpot’ zone north of Boston, and we’re currently trying to figure out whether the 8-ft snow banks around our house are helping or hurting in terms of insulation! Our tip for winterizing is to hang heavier drapes. Like others said, they definitely help absorb the chill from drafty window frames.
How have I never heard of these before? I think I’ll be counting outlets and switches tonight when I get home. My circa 1954 house is poorly insulated, so my heating bills are high! I hope these make a difference.
I just replaced our very old round honeywell thermostats with new programmable ones, and it helps so much that we don’t have to worry about forgetting and leaving it turned up too high during the workday or at night!
We were just planning to do this to our outlets. Your blog posts are always so timely. Thanks!
Close the door quickly! An easy one for sure, but somehow the kids like to leave it open for the next person no matter how far behind they are.
We’re caulking around all the window and door frames to help winterize our home. I think we’re going to try to cap off our outlets too – thanks for the idea!
I was just telling my BFF about these last week! We added them to the exterior wall outlets of our home and they do make a giant difference! So awesome.
we seal off rooms we are not using and close the grates (we have forced hot air) to keep the heating costs to a minimum. We also put plastic on the windows that are not energy efficient.
This is a great idea. I’ve gotten replacement windows and did a lot of caulking in the process. And got 2 new storm doors for doors that did not have them. I have a lot left to do unfortunately-the doors drafty-I can see light through the edges and my attic door doesn’t exactly fit in it’s spot.
Ok, I’ve had the little coats waiting for a couple of years – we live in California, so it’s not a dire situation, but still. You’ve inspired me to get on with them! Thanks!
How timely (once again)! I noticed quite the draft coming from an exterior outlet in our living room. Thank you for the reminder to install the outlet coats. It’s been added to the to-do list. Now, as to spraying insulating foam into all the cracks…
Actually, I think those outlet covers are genius (I did the City of Chicago weatherization program, which included tons of fun stuff like that!). Right now though, the moving mat my husband hung over the doorway to an old porch (with terrible winterization) is making the biggest difference for me!
Waking up in the south to 10 below zero this morning (with wind chills about 20 below)sure does make one think about keeping the inside of the house toasty warm. One thing I’ve always done in the winter is to keep my blinds and/or curtains drawn over the windows. It’s crazy how much draft you can keep out just by doing it. Kitchen is looking great. Can’t wait to see the finished product!
Honestly we don’t really do anything to winterize here in southern NM. Lucky us!
Luckily here in SoCal there’s not much we have to do (although friends in the mountains have to!). But when the Santa Ana winds blow in this time of year, it certainly points out any spots in the window frames that need fresh caulking!
i never remember to close the flue. If we have a fire in the fireplace, the next morning our room is freezing. I need a sign to remind me.
Thank you! I’ve had a draft coming from the outlet in my office and I keep meaning to do something about it. Now I know just what to do! BTW- those kitchen countertops are so beautiful!!!
I’m curious how you decided on the single bowl sink, instead of the double basin? So far, are you happy with how it is functioning? We currently use one side of our double basin for a drying rack, and I was worried with a single basin we would have to move the drying rack to the counter. Do you place a drying rack on your counter, or are you responsible enough to dry and put away immediately? ;-)
You’re kitchen is looking amazing! Can’t wait to see the final touches!