Everyone wants an efficient home. It saves money on utility bills. It’s better for the environment. Energy efficient homes can also score tax credits, insurance benefits and all kinds of other bonuses. In a general sense, efficiency is a good thing. So, if you want an energy-efficient home, you need to know about one of the biggest hurdles that no one considers: electrical boxes.
Heat Exchange Across Electrical Boxes
It’s difficult for heat to exchange across walls and insulation. Even windows are multi-paned to mitigate airflow and heat exchanges. It’s why homes are able to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, even without extensive heating or air conditioning.
The biggest problem for most homes is airflow between the inside and outside. If you open a window or have a gap under the exterior door, you will get this airflow, and it undermines the energy efficiency of the house. That’s because free-moving air can carry heat into or out of the home through these cracks.
Most homes are fortified against door gaps, but there is one source of airflow that is often missed: electrical boxes. Every outlet, ceiling light (or fan) and networking jack is attached to an electrical box. The box holds the key components and keeps everything organized and safe for the house. But, those boxes are places where a hole is literally cut out of the wall. If the boxes don’t seal, air can flow through them.
On top of that, the presence of the box limits how much insulation can be in that area. It makes boxes doubly bad for energy efficiency.
Fortunately, there are air-sealed boxes. These adjustable electrical boxes are designed to create an insulating seal that does not allow any airflow through or across the box. By eliminating this simple but prolific problem, air-sealed electrical boxes make homes more efficient.
Better Air-Sealed Electrical Boxes
Air sealing the boxes solves most of the problem, but there is another component at play. Many electrical boxes are made of metal, and most metals are great conductors of heat. It’s why they’re used to make frying pans.
Even if you seal your electrical box, making it out of metal reverses some of the efficiency gains. The insulation is thin in that area, and that means heat transfers across the metal are easier.
The solution is simple. Air-sealed electrical boxes need to be made out of something else. Non-metallic boxes and enclosure accessories can still seal the air and complete the efficiency improvements by eliminating the challenges created by metal.