Simple Solutions

How to Seal Recessed Light Fixtures for Energy Efficiency

By: Joe Truini

Joe Truini applying caulk to drywall ceiling around recessed light fixture hole.

To prevent heated air from escaping around the hole in the ceiling on recessed light fixtures:

  1. Remove the bulb from the light fixture.
  2. Pull the trim ring down a few inches from the ceiling.
  3. Apply a bead of caulk around the cutout in the ceiling.
  4. Press the trim ring into the caulking.
  5. Reinstall the bulb in the recessed light fixture.

Only caulk recessed fixtures to the ceiling if the trim ring doesn’t have to be removed to change the bulb. Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Print   Video Transcript

Danny Lipford: Recessed lights are extremely popular these days, but they’re not that energy efficient.

Joe Truini: The problem with recessed lights is that the fixture itself is actually up inside the ceiling. And it’s very easy for heated air or air conditioned air to seep behind here and go up into the ceiling, and you’re wasting energy in that case.

So one way to seal this up is to take caulk and put a thick bead all the way around the cutout in the ceiling. And then press the trim kit—which is what they call this ring—tight against the ceiling, creating an air tight seal.

Danny Lipford: What type of caulk would you use on this, Joe?

Joe Truini: Well in this case I’m using a siliconized acrylic, which is nice because it’s not only a caulk with an adhesive and it’s water clean up. You could probably use a straight silicone, but I like this because you can clean it up very easily.

Danny Lipford: And I guess it’s important to be fairly neat with this, that way you’re not having to do any touch-up paint around it.

Joe Truini: That’s right. I would put it right, as you see here, right along the cutout in the ceiling. It’ll get overlapped a little by the trim kit, but you don’t want it squeezing out.

Danny Lipford: Now, it’s important not to do this on a type of light fixture that has the lens on it, because you have to pull the trim kit down in order to change the bulb. So this works great on this type of fixture.


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2 Comments on “How to Seal Recessed Light Fixtures for Energy Efficiency”

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  • Official Comment:


    Thomas Boni Says:
    July 8th, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Hi, AJ,

    Danny says, “Yes, and I did that at my house by creating a simple square screen box that I positioned over the recessed lights in my attic. It enabled me to put insulation over the entire fixture without the insulation touching the fixture due to the screen box.

    Good luck!”



  • AJ Tourn Says:
    June 21st, 2018 at 12:29 pm

    I like this idea a lot, but I happen to have the exact type of recessed lighting that you mention this should not be used for-the kind that needs to be pulled down in order to change the bulb. Is there a way to seal those types of fixtures?
    I am asking both for energy efficiency and because, after pulling the whole can out several times to change bulbs, the surrounding drywall is no longer snug enough to hold the fixture flush to the ceiling, which just looks sad and unfinished and I imagine is hurting the rooms energy efficiency considerably. Is there a way to fix that will still allow the fixture to be removed later for bulb replacement?


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How to Seal Recessed Light Fixtures for Energy Efficiency