Air Blocker Air-sealing electrical boxes is tough to do. You can use caulking or duct seal, but flexing the wires while installing the device is likely to ruin the seal. Special work boxes with gaskets are another option, but they're expensive and I'm betting that your electrician would prefer something a little more conventional. After struggling with this problem for years, Joel Anderson, a North Dakota builder specializing in energy-efficient construction, came up with the idea of sealing plastic and metal electrical boxes with a small block of polystyrene. Dubbed the Energy Block, his invention insulates behind the box, too, so you don't have to worry about fitting fiberglass back there. A whole-house kit with 49 single-gang, four four-gang (they can be trimmed), and 15 ceiling boxes sells for about $87. Individual boxes are also available. Pine Ridge Builders, 701/320-1111, www.energyblock.com

Shingle Style Unlike most plastic shingle panels — which are made from polypropylene — The Foundry's Vinyl Cedar Shingles are composed of PVC with an acrylic color layer. This construction earns them a Class-A fire rating and provides homeowners with 16 good-looking colors to choose from. According to the manufacturer, the panels cost less per...

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