a hand holding up a thermal camera to the exterior of a house, showing the hot and cold areas on the camera

After renovating homes to be completely net-zero (efficiency and solar power both the house and the electric car 100%) over the past couple of years, you can imagine many lessons have been learned.

Much of that was through trial and error, and more like trial by fire. But it all started with the goal of getting to net-zero as affordably and as easily as possible.

A lot of that included finding affordable energy efficiency products to make the biggest energy-saving (and money-saving) impact, and that’s what we’re going to talk about here.

Below, you’ll find a list of the best bang-for-your-buck efficiency tools and products that’ll help you save the most amount of energy (and money), with only a little bit of your DIY time needed.

The Energy Efficiency Process

The process generally starts with a decision tree that starts with the lowest hanging fruit. Of course, every house is different, but the process typically goes like this:

  • Air sealing and air leakage
  • Insulation
  • Examing and optimizing or replacing the HVAC and water heater systems
  • Windows and doors
  • Lighting (Swapping to LED)
  • Any other noticeable energy efficiency saving measures
  • Focus on solar or small wind turbine renewable energy generation

There’s a lot more in between the above list in terms of calculations, expertise, and building science/performance, but that’s usually a good start.

aerial view of net-zero house with solar panels on the roof
Our first net-zero house, complete with energy efficiency and solar to power the house and the electric car 100% for a very affordable cost all in.

An Explanation of How To Approach Saving Energy with Affordable Tools

In general, you want to focus on cheaper products and labor within energy efficiency first, then focus on solar as the last item to generate energy. This is because it’s usually easier to save energy vs. produce more to achieve your sustainability or net-zero goals. 

I start with the financial picture in mind when I approach a project. This includes basic investing principles such as:

  • ROI: Return on Investment
  • IRR: Internal Rate of Return
  • Payback: Total project cost divided by the yearly energy savings.

I’ve found that when you focus on the costs and make sure the project pencils out, the environmental benefits and sustainability naturally come. 

Some may disagree with my order of money before the environment. Still, in my seventeen years in sustainability as my career, I rarely see anything move forward that doesn’t make monetary sense. 

So when I list the products out below, you can rest assured that they are tried and true money, energy, and environmental savers to help you start to make your own home or project more efficient and environmentally (and monetarily) friendly. 

Let’s Get To The Energy Saving Products

With that said, let’s jump into these products that have helped me go net-zero on these projects. They aren’t in any particular order, and though the ones towards the top half may carry more weight on cost for the savings they provide. This is why they come to mind first!

Outlet Insulation Gasket Covers

While it may be out of sight and out of mind, the electrical sockets and light switches in our home are usually causing our house to be very leaky and thus very energy inefficient. In addition, because there is a huge hole in the wall for outlets and switches to give you access inside the house, huge air gaps exist throughout the house, like swiss cheese.

You can see for yourself if you take the outlet plate covers off. The electrical box will fit inside the drywall, but it’s not air-sealed around the edges, or in the back where the wires come in. This means that these openings are completely open to whatever gets inside the walls (air, bugs, dust, etc), attic, or outside the house.

Now add up how many switches and outlets you have throughout your home, and you can see how much leakage there actually is. When I’ve done blower door tests for clients and friends, you can feel the rush of air coming through these areas with your hand.

Having such open gaps in the house means the HVAC has to work that much harder all the time to keep you comfortable. And that also means your energy bills are constantly higher as well.

Where to Buy Insulated Gasket Cover Sealers

Firstly, count the number of switches and outlets you have around your house. You’ll be surprised how fast it adds up!

Home Depot usually carries some in stock, but they’ll be a bit more expensive for the amount you get, and the ones I’m finding in stock are also limited. Meaning that they are only for one type of switch or outlet. The benefit will be getting them right now if you want to run over there.

The better option, in our opinion, is Amazon. There are many to choose from, but go with a package that covers the amount you need. There are also ones that easily can be molded to your exact outlet and switch type.

Remember – the key here is air and gap sealing. You want the tightest opening possible. This is the most popular product on Amazon right now, and you can pick different types and quantities, along with whether you want them adhesive-backed or not. I would say go with the adhesive because it could provide a better air seal –

TradeGear Wall Plate Insulation Gasket - Wall Gasket Replacement Made with Waterproof, Polyethylene Insulating Foam - Energy Saving, One Size Fits All Design (26 Pack W/Adhesive Back)
121 Reviews
TradeGear Wall Plate Insulation Gasket - Wall Gasket Replacement Made with Waterproof, Polyethylene Insulating Foam - Energy Saving, One Size Fits All Design (26 Pack W/Adhesive Back)
  • IDEAL FOR EVERY HOME: Are you looking for a replacement insulation gasket for your home but wondering if it will fit? TradeGear’s gasket replacements have a one size fits all design that offers a universal fit. You are therefore guaranteed that it will fit just like it was made for your wall outlet.
  • EXCELLENT VALUE FOR MONEY: Every purchase you make gets EXCELLENT VALUE FOR YOUR MONEY: Ideal for all around the home use, and provide you with the best value for your money.
  • SATISFACTION GUARANTEE: We are sure about the quality of our insulating foam gaskets, and that is why we can confidently stand behind them with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If for any reason you are not happy with your purchase, please let us know and get a full refund. Click ‘Add to Cart’ now!

IR Thermometer + Iphone IR Camera Adapter

Not only are these just cool gadgets to have for many reasons, but it’s a staple tool used for energy efficiency diagnostics amongst professionals. Infrared thermometers and thermal cameras are fantastic tools to see behind walls, check temperature differentials, and effectively look at your house like an x-ray would a person.

A picture of an infrared camera showing heat gains from inside the ceiling, with a red arrow pointing to the vent where the camera is pointed.
This is an older IR camera, but you can see where insulation is missing behind the drywall in this one spot.

Houses are effectively thousands of pieces of material put together systematically. But how they come together is dependent on the design, materials used, who installed it, and all the rest. This means that it’s usually a toss-up in terms of energy efficiency basics like air sealing and insulation.

Some things that infrared tools can help within energy efficiency:

  • Seeing behind walls to see where insulation is missing.
  • Seeing where warm or cold air is sneaking through gaps and getting into the house.
  • Learning where other material is missing or not connected correctly.

There’s more, but all the above lead to a constantly less-efficient home and higher energy bills. Here are a couple of handy tools at different price ranges that you can buy to diagnose your own house. The thermometer will be a lot less expensive but only gives you the temperature reading itself.

Etekcity Infrared Thermometer 774, Digital Temperature Gun for Cooking, Non Contact Electric Laser IR Temp Gauge, Home Repairs, Handmaking, Surface Measuring, -58 to 716 ℉, - 50 to 380 ℃, Yellow
37,172 Reviews
Etekcity Infrared Thermometer 774, Digital Temperature Gun for Cooking, Non Contact Electric Laser IR Temp Gauge, Home Repairs, Handmaking, Surface Measuring, -58 to 716 ℉, - 50 to 380 ℃, Yellow
  • NOT FOR HUMAN: Temperature readings from these devices are inanimate objects. The measured temperature for humans or animals will be inaccurate
  • BETTER ACCURACY: 12:1 D:S, meaning it can accurately measure targets at greater distances compared to most others; For best accuracy, the distance between the thermometer and object of measurement should approximately be 14.17 inches (36 cm)
  • TARGET QUICKER: Measure surface temperature ranging from -58℉ to 716℉(-50℃ to 380℃), with 2 units ℉/℃ to choose; Response time: ≤500Ms; A built-in laser gives you the precision to hone in on the exact space you want to measure
  • VERSATILE DESIGN: Infrared technology makes it to measure the surface temperature of various objects especially temperatures above boiling points and below freezing points; Use it for cooking, ovens; AC, refrigerators; or soapmaking cats toy etc
  • Note: This color model don't contain emissivity adjustment feature and max temperature feature

The camera will give you a complete visual like the image above, and you can take screenshots and do a lot more with it. And if you have an iPhone – the Lightning adapter allows for seamless integration at a lower cost while saving weight at the same time.

Here are the top 3 current best sellers for IR camera tools on Amazon –

Bestseller No. 1
FLIR ONE Gen 3 - iOS - Thermal Camera for Smart Phones - with MSX Image Enhancement Technology
4,193 Reviews
FLIR ONE Gen 3 - iOS - Thermal Camera for Smart Phones - with MSX Image Enhancement Technology
  • Lightweight accessory that transforms your Android device into a powerful thermal infrared camera
  • Free FLIR ONE mobile app (recently updated) with exclusive content, real time professional tips and tricks, multiple spot meters, and easy automated reporting to document your findings user registration not required
  • FLIR ONE allows you to measure temperature variances
  • Capture and share thermal images and videos. Exclusive MSX Technology blends thermal and visible spectrum for more detail and enhanced resolution
  • Spot Meter: Off / °C / °F. Resolution 0.1°C / 0.1°F
Bestseller No. 2
FLIR ONE Pro - iOS - Professional Grade Thermal Camera for Smartphones - with VividIR and MSX Image Enhancement Technology
1,751 Reviews
FLIR ONE Pro - iOS - Professional Grade Thermal Camera for Smartphones - with VividIR and MSX Image Enhancement Technology
  • FLIR ONE PRO: Powerful Infrared camera mobile accessary with adjustable one fit connector lets you find hidden electrical problems, energy loss, water damage, and other heat related issues.
  • IMAGE DETAIL & CLARITY: Record crisp 19,200 pixel IR images – a 4X improvement over the FLIR ONE Pro LT – at a thermal sensitivity of 70 mK.
  • EXPANDED MEASUREMENT: Measure temperatures up to 400 C – compared to a maximum of 120 C for the FLIR ONE Pro LT – with up to three spot temperature meters and six temperature regions of interest.
  • VIVIDIR IMAGE PROCESSING: Unique image processing technology that enhances resolution and accuracy, to help you catch potential problems early and reliably diagnose problems. When combined with MSX – which enhances thermal images with visual details – the FLIR ONE Pro offers unsurpassed image quality for a mobile IR solution.
  • ONEFIT CONNECTOR: Adjustable connector extends by up to 4 mm, so you can secure your FLIR ONE Pro to your mobile device while its still in the protective case.
Bestseller No. 3
UNI-T UTi89 Pro Thermal Camera Imager 80x60 IR Resolution Handheld Infrared Camera Thermal Imaging 4800 Pixels 9Hz Refresh Rate, IP65 Rechargeable 16GB MicroSD 2 Meter Drop Durability
34 Reviews
UNI-T UTi89 Pro Thermal Camera Imager 80x60 IR Resolution Handheld Infrared Camera Thermal Imaging 4800 Pixels 9Hz Refresh Rate, IP65 Rechargeable 16GB MicroSD 2 Meter Drop Durability
  • New model. UNI-T thermal imaging camera UTi89 Pro. Infrared resolution 4,800 (80x60) pixels. Clear display resolution 320x240 pixels.
  • 5 palettes (iron oxide red, rainbow, white heat, red heat, ice blue) for clearer view and easier analysis. 9Hz frame rate. Thermal sensitivity (NETD) 150mK. PC analysis software. Real-time image transmission.
  • Safe & Durable. IP65. 2m drop test. Image alarm/LED alarm/buzzer alarm. Nonskid rubber cover. Ergonomic grip. Non-contact monitoring system.
  • Charged with type-C USB cable and run for over 6h. Fast charging with power banks. (Please use adapter that is 5V/2A or less, and fully charge the unit before first use. After long distance transport battery might run out of power.)
  • Simple & Easy one-hand operation. High-accuracy detection. Wide temperature range from 14°F ~ 752°F (-10°C ~ 400°C). 3 optional measurements features. Center spot, High-temp tracking, ROI (region of interest).

Home Energy Monitoring Devices

Often, you can’t know how to save energy unless you’re monitoring what you’re actually using. It’s also very cool to understand precisely what each electrical circuit is doing in your home and allows exact diagnosis or troubleshooting as well.

That’s what these tools are precisely used for. We’ll talk about the main ones here are the Emporia Vue and the Sense monitors. I think these are the two best, and the most popular ones.

The Benefits of Home Energy Monitors

  • Track energy usage on each individual electrical circuit
  • See where you can improve on savings and where energy waste is coming from
  • Diagnose devices or appliances that may not be working right
  • Monitor circuits to see that lights or things are left on
  • Disaster avoidance – set alerts for critical device usage when they turn on, like sump pumps, well pumps, and more.
  • Use real granular data for your energy efficiency and renewable calculations

Beyond the list above, it’s just a lot of fun to be able to see every single circuit and what power you’re pulling at any given moment. On a more nerdy/hobby/professional level, I use these calculations to figure out exactly how to get to the lowest payback/highest ROI on these net-zero renovations and home projects.

I use the Emporia Vue because it’s pretty much half price of the Sense and works well. Here are some install pictures, along with a picture of what the app looks like –

a picture of the Emporia Vue app showing a bar graph of daily energy usage
The Emporia app showing daily energy usage on the whole house.
a picture of an open electrical panel with the Emporia Vue installed
This is the Emporia Vue installed in the electrical panel. It took maybe under 30 minutes or so to get it all hooked up and working with the wifi. It’s been super solid for over a year now!

Where to Buy Energy Monitoring Devices

If you like the Emporia Vue option, I recommend going with the one with 16 sensors (meaning it can monitor 16 different circuits). I originally got the 8, but it wasn’t enough for my three-bedroom home. Maybe look at how many breakers you have in your home before choosing the 8 or 16. Here is the link to check out and purchase the Emporia:

Smart Home Energy Monitor with 16 50A Circuit Level Sensors | Vue - Real Time Electricity Monitor/Meter | Solar/Net Metering
3,011 Reviews
Smart Home Energy Monitor with 16 50A Circuit Level Sensors | Vue - Real Time Electricity Monitor/Meter | Solar/Net Metering
  • INSTALLS IN CIRCUIT PANEL of most homes with clamp-on sensors. Supports single-phase up to 240VAC line-neutral; single, split-phase 120/240VAC; and three-phase up to 415Y/240VAC (no Delta). Panels with access only to busbars will need flexible sensors available from Emporia Energy. Includes DIY instructions, though a professional electrician is recommended.
  • 24/7 ENERGY MONITORING: Monitor your home's real power anywhere, anytime to prevent costly repairs, conserve energy, and save costs. Monitor solar / net metering. Light commercial 3 phase option available as a separate bundle. PROTECTED BY A 1-YEAR WARRANTY.
  • APPLIANCE MONITORING WITHOUT GUESSWORK: Comes with sixteen (16) 50A sensors to accurately monitor your air conditioner, furnace, water heater, washer, dryer, range, etc.
  • LOWER YOUR ELECTRIC BILL: Gauge real-time spending and get actionable notifications to understand where you can save costs.
  • REAL-TIME ENERGY DATA: REQUIRES 2.4 GHz WIFI WITH AN INTERNET CONNECTION to monitor energy use with iPhone / Android app. Vue sensors provide 1-second data and are accurate from ±2%. The Vue is UL and CE Listed for your safety. 1 second data is retained 3 hours, 1 minute data is retained 7 days, 1 hour data is retained indefinitely. Export the data whenever you want in the app.

Though the Emporia is less expensive, I believe the Sense looks much better and more intuitive on the app itself. I haven’t personally purchased Sense, but it seems more polished.

Sense has a few different versions, so we added them below. Their FLEX system allows for more monitoring on 240v, generators, solar, or 400am split service. They also have a Solar version as well if you have a solar electric system for the house –

Bestseller No. 1
Sense Flex Home Energy Monitor
239 Reviews
Sense Flex Home Energy Monitor
  • COMBINES THE SENSE MONITOR AND FLEX SENSORS, allowing you to monitor up to two 120V/240V circuits, monitor your generator, solar, or 400A split-service system.
  • SENSE SAVES: Sense saves you energy and money by providing insight into your home's energy use and activity. NOW SUPPORTING TIME-OF-USE RATE PLANS.
  • SEE WHAT’S UP. KNOW WHAT’S ON: Track how much electricity you’re using, what time your kids got home, or when someone leaves the basement light on. Sense identifies patterns in your energy use to help your family be more efficient, informed, and secure.
  • MONITOR YOUR HOME’S ENERGY USE FROM ANYWHERE: Real-time data through our iOS, Android, and web apps.
  • AVOID DISASTER: Set custom notifications for critical devices, like your sump pump, well pump, or flat iron. Sense is not currently available or compatible outside the United States and Canada.
Bestseller No. 2
Sense Energy Monitor - Track Electricity Usage in Real Time and Save Money - Meets Rigourous ETL/Intertek Safety Standards
2,560 Reviews
Sense Energy Monitor - Track Electricity Usage in Real Time and Save Money - Meets Rigourous ETL/Intertek Safety Standards
  • SENSE SAVES: Sense saves you energy and money by providing insights into your home's energy use and activity. NOW SUPPORTING TIME-OF-USE RATE PLANS.
  • SEE WHAT'S UP. KNOW WHAT'S ON: Track how much electricity you're using, what time your kids got home, or when someone leaves the basement light on. Sense identifies patterns in your energy use to help your familiy be more efficient, informed, and secure.
  • MONITOR YOUR HOME'S ENERGY USE FROM ANYWHERE: Real-time data through our iOS, Android, and web apps.
  • AVOID DISASTER: Set custom notifications for critical devices, like your sump pump, well pump, or flat iron.
  • MEETS RIGOROUS SAFETY STANDARDS: Sense's components and system have been designed and ETL/Intertek certified for installation and operation inside the electrical panel. Sense is not currently available or compatible outside the United States and Canada.
Bestseller No. 3
Sense Energy Monitor with Solar – Track Electricity Usage and Solar Production in Real Time Meets Rigorous ETL/Intertek Safety Standards
678 Reviews
Sense Energy Monitor with Solar – Track Electricity Usage and Solar Production in Real Time Meets Rigorous ETL/Intertek Safety Standards
  • SENSE SAVES: Sense saves you energy and money by providing insight into your home's energy use and activity. NOW SUPPORTING TIME-OF-USE RATE PLANS.
  • MAXIMIZE YOUR SOLAR ENERGY USE: Compare solar production and energy consumption side-by-side in a single view so you can maximize the power you make and minimize the power you buy.
  • SEE WHAT’S UP. KNOW WHAT’S ON: Track how much electricity you’re using, what time your kids got home, or when someone leaves the basement light on. Sense identifies patterns in your energy use to help your family be more efficient, informed, and secure.
  • AVOID DISASTER: Set custom notifications for critical devices, like your sump pump, well pump, or flat iron.
  • MEETS RIGOROUS SAFETY STANDARDS: Sense’s components and system have been designed and ETL/Intertek certified for installation and operation inside the electrical panel. Sense is not currently available or compatible outside the United States and Canada.

Plug-In Energy Reader

Another option to easy read and monitor your plug-in devices is to buy a plug-in electricity meter. These are going to be much cheaper than the ones you install in your electrical panel, like Emporia Vue or Sense above, but they will only read the things you’re plugging in.

This can be a fun exercise to see what your appliances, computers, light fixtures, TV’s, and other things are pulling. This is a bit of nerd fun, but I’ve created a spreadsheet of all plug-in devices in my homes, and use it for calculations on going net-zero as well. When you think of all the items plugged into electrical powerbars and wall outlets, it adds up quick!

There are certainly many options, but here are the top three plug-in electrical meters you can buy on Amazon:

SaleBestseller No. 1
Suraielec Watt Meter, Plug-in Socket Power Meter, Auto Cost Calculator, Backlit Large Display, Overload Protection, Kilowatt Wattage Voltage AMP Tester, Electricity Usage Electrical Energy Monitor
879 Reviews
Suraielec Watt Meter, Plug-in Socket Power Meter, Auto Cost Calculator, Backlit Large Display, Overload Protection, Kilowatt Wattage Voltage AMP Tester, Electricity Usage Electrical Energy Monitor
  • 【 Monitoring Electric Usage and Know Cost Intuitively 】 Power consumption meter can measure power (W), volts, amps, frequency, power factor, maximum and minimum power (W), cumulative time and energy (kWh), and calculate cost automatically after price-setting; monitoring home energy usage and help you to save electricity cost
  • 【 Large Clear LCD Display with Backlight 】 Electricity monitor kilowatt meter has a wide view angle and clear-digit display; easy to read and operate the electricity monitor in dark areas with the backlit clear LCD display
  • 【 Long Time Data Hold Memory Function 】 Come with built-in rechargeable battery backup, the watt meter power analyzer can hold data up to 90 days when coming across a power outage or plugging out the meter from the outlet; all data includes the cost setting will go to zero once press the reset button
  • 【 Potable and Takes up 1 Outlet Only 】 Compact size; power meter socket plug leaves the lower wall outlet available when plugging into the upper outlet; made of high-quality fire-resistant material; friendly after-sale customer service and 1-year limited warranty; Note: do not compatible with AC inverter and solar power inverter
  • 【 3680W Overload Indication 】 This power monitor meter can measure 110-130 Vac & 200-240 Vac voltage (Note: Label on watt meter back only shows 110-130 Vac low volt range due to certification requirements); 0-16A AMP; 0-3680W wattage, and indicate overload when load up to 3680W; Class 1.0 accuracy standard with 0.1W, 0.1V, 0.001A and 0.001kWh resolution
Bestseller No. 2
kuman KW47-US Electricity Usage Monitor Plug Power Watt Voltage Amps Meter with Digital LCD, Overload Protection and 7 Display Modes for Energy Saving (NO-Backlight), white
3,827 Reviews
kuman KW47-US Electricity Usage Monitor Plug Power Watt Voltage Amps Meter with Digital LCD, Overload Protection and 7 Display Modes for Energy Saving (NO-Backlight), white
  • Electricity usage monitor: Monitor is the killer of the high-cost energy appliance, helping you lower power consumption and save money.
  • Digital LCD Display: Large clear LCD display for easy reading, the screen size is 47cmx60cm.
  • Various Parameters: Power(W), Energy (kWh), Voltage, Amps, Power Factor, Cost and Minimum & Maximum Power, ideal for energy consumption monitor.
  • Overload Protection: Once the whole power exceeds the rated power of monitor, LCD will display "OVERLOAD" with booming noise to remind the user
  • Built-in Battery:With 3.6V rechargeable battery(NI-MH), It can store electricity. which allows meter to be moved and viewed without losing readings.
SaleBestseller No. 3
Upgraded Watt Meter Power Meter Plug Home Electricity Usage Monitor, Electrical Usage Monitor Consumption, Energy Voltage Amps Kill Meter Tester with Backlight, Overload Protection, 7 Modes Display
  • 【Various Monitoring Parameters】: The power meter plug can monitor the power (W), energy (kWh), volts, amps, hertz, power factor, cost, minimum and maximum power (W), cumulative days and time of your appliances. By switching 7 display modes, you can easily know the various parameters while the appliance is working. The home energy monitor can also calculate and display how much power your appliance uses and how much electricity bill it cost in cumulative time.
  • 【Upgraded LCD display】: With large screen size 2.36 inch x 1.85 inch, clearer monitor backlit, our electrical usage monitor can display the data clearer and more visible no matter day or night. 180°full wide viewing angles is great for reading and recording the data in any angles. No need to stand on the front of the display and bend over to read the numbers. Backlight time: 10 minutes.
  • 【Overload protection】: When the power of the appliance exceeds the overload power, the LCD will display “OVERLOAD” to warn the user. All the buttons will quit working and can only be workable when you lower or remove the load power. The default overload power is 3680W and is adjustable from 0 to 3680W. In general, you need to set the overload power to 1800W before using. Just press the "function" button for more than 3 seconds to enter the setting.
  • 【Data Memory Function】: The wattage meter will record your power consumption data when you remove it from socket, or remove appliances from the electricity monitor. You can directly see the last data when you use it next time. This function can also automatically save the data when there is a sudden power failure.
  • 【100% SATISFACTION】: Our watt meter power analyzer is ideal for monitoring the electricity usage of your home appliances, controlling your power consumption, and saving your money. Your best choice for voltage meter, kilowatt meter, current meter and electricity meter. If you have any concerns with the electrical meter socket you received, you can contact us to get 100% satisfaction.

LED Lighting

Swapping out your old bulbs and light fixtures (if the light is integrated) is one of the best things you can do to drop your daily energy use immediately. I can speak with conviction on this one because I built up an energy-efficient commercial lighting company in my previous life.

What Are the Benefits of Energy Efficient LED Lighting?

The bottom line with lighting, whether it be residential or commercial, is that swapping out the old technologies with LEDs will save anywhere from 50-90% on your energy usage. There are many more benefits, including better light quality, brighter output for the same wattage used, less heat, longer-lasting lamps, and of course, the energy savings.

LEDs came on the scene about 6-7 years ago. Back then, they were super expensive, unreliable, heavy, and had weird color output, among other things. These days, all those concerns have been largely solved.

How to Go About Changing Out Your Lighting for Energy Savings

Here are some quick tips on how to go about swapping your lighting. This assumes we’ll be mostly switching out many different types of bulbs in your house. I’m also shooting for cheaper solutions like the non-smart bulbs and fancy wifi or smart home ones.

The energy savings will come from swapping out old technology only if you’ve bought LEDs already, congrats! You’re already enjoying the energy savings.

The old technology to change out will be either incandescent or CFL bulbs. And yes, even these days, LED’s will save 20-50% over CFLs, and will last longer.

Unscrew the bulb in your current fixture and take a picture or write down the label or part number on it. This is what you’ll use to match up your new LED bulb.

It may say things like A19 or R30 or weird combos of numbers and letters. This labor is the type of bulb it is.

Note the Kelvin Temperature on the bulb as well. This label is shown as something like 2700K, 3000K, 4000k, 5000K, etc. Here is a handy Kelvin temperature chart so you can pick the right color for your home. In general, I personally like 4000K or close to it. It’s a bright, clean enough white color with a slightly warm feel.

a color chart of the Kelvin temperature ranges of light bulbs, with orange yellow colors fading to white blue colors on the right side

You can see that warmer orange/yellow output will be closer to 2700K or 3000K. For a more bright-white look, shoot for 5000K. If you go much higher beyond 5000K, it’ll start looking blue, which is not ideal for residential homes.

For nighttime and on the exterior of the house, I like 5000K. It provides a brighter light naturally and mimics natural light for nighttime vision.

Also a fun fact, the sun itself is 5,780 Kelvin.

Where to Buy LED Lighting

Since the options are near-endless for bulbs and lighting, it’s best to follow the guide mentioned above and to take an inventory of what you have in your house already, then find the LED matching bulb.

The big-box stores all carry LEDs locally now. You can visit Home Depot or Lowes or purchase them online. The light bulb category for Home Depot can be visited here. And here is the link for the Lowes light bulbs as well.

And here is the main Amazon light bulbs category as well.

There’s a lot to lighting, but I hope this helps you kick start that part of your energy-saving journey!

Caulk & Spray Foam for Air Sealing

Both caulk and spray foam are relatively cheap and are usually the best products for air sealing different areas in the home.

Using Spray Foam and Caulk for Energy Savings

Going back to the theme of spending the least for the maximum energy savings, caulk is a great tool. It’s flexible as a material to seal the smaller gaps. And remember – anywhere there’s a gap in the home, air can get in and escape as well. So caulk can be great in sealing areas such as:

  1. Cracks in drywall or paint
  2. Between the baseboards and your floor (attic air (and bus) can go down the walls and out through this gap)
  3. Around windows and doors
  4. Around cabinets
  5. Around electrical outlets (when you take the cover off)
  6. To seal holes in the wall where plumbing comes through from the inside of the wall
  7. Around air vents (when you take the cover off)
  8. And much more

I can’t possibly list out every place to air seal in a home, but you get the idea. Any kind of sealing will help let you regulate the air in your home more and help the HVAC run much less typically.

Here are some pictures of the air and gap sealing I’ve done on our own net-zero renovation projects:

Where to Buy Caulk

The cheapest way to pick it up at Home Depot or Lowes. They both have many different types and colors in stock. You may want to note the area where the caulk is going on to save yourself some headache or maintenance down the road. Regular caulk can go on anything, but you may want to pick specific types like:

  • Silicone for areas where the material may expand and contract (need flexible caulk)
  • Window and door-specific caulk for those areas.
  • Bathroom and kitchen-specific caulk so it doens’t yellow or stain over time as water gets on it.

There are more types, but you get the idea!

You can also get caulk delivered from Amazon, but it’ll be a bit more expensive than picking it up. Here is the link to their main caulk category page.

There are tons of types available, but here are the five bestsellers at Amazon as well:

SaleBestseller No. 1
Gorilla Waterproof Caulk & Seal 100% Silicone Sealant, 10oz Cartridge, White (Pack of 1)
11,681 Reviews
Gorilla Waterproof Caulk & Seal 100% Silicone Sealant, 10oz Cartridge, White (Pack of 1)
  • SEALS OUT WATER, AIR & MOISTURE
  • 30 MINUTE WATER READY
  • INDOOR/OUTDOOR: All Weather
  • 100% WATERPROOF - MOLD & MILDEW RESISTANT
  • WON’T YELLOW, SHRINK OR CRACK
SaleBestseller No. 2
Red Devil 0405 Duraguard Kitchen & Bath Siliconized Acrylic Caulk, 5.5 oz, White
2,517 Reviews
Red Devil 0405 Duraguard Kitchen & Bath Siliconized Acrylic Caulk, 5.5 oz, White
  • PROVIDES A DURABLE & WATERTIGHT SEAL: Offers good discoloration resistance
  • EXCELLENT ADHESION: Adheres well to various kitchen & bath surfaces
  • EASY APPLICATION & TOOLING: Makes it easy to achieve a professional repair
  • PAINTABLE: Can be painted to match any desired color
  • WATER CLEAN UP: Cleans up easily with soap and water
SaleBestseller No. 3
DAP INC 18152 10.1oz White Alex Plus Acrylic Latex Caulk with Silicone
2,828 Reviews
DAP INC 18152 10.1oz White Alex Plus Acrylic Latex Caulk with Silicone
  • Sturdy and secure construction
  • Perfect for your household
  • High quality productLow Order and Easy Water Clean-Up
  • Paintable in just 30 minutes
  • Premium quality for caulking around window and door frames and siding corner joints
Bestseller No. 4
ALLWAY CT31 3-in-1 Caulk Tool for Removal and Application
3,194 Reviews
ALLWAY CT31 3-in-1 Caulk Tool for Removal and Application
  • Multifunction 3-in-1 caulk tool with comfortable soft-grip
  • Use the steel blade to quickly remove old, dried caulk
  • Rotatable silicone rubber triangle with 3 bead profiles (narrow, medium, or wide) applies caulk and smooths it to satisfaction
  • Scraper end allows for easy edge clean-up
  • Works with acrylic, latex, and silicone caulk and is handy for window, bath, and shower projects
SaleBestseller No. 5
Dap Inc 18152 6 Pack 10.1 oz. Alex Plus Acrylic Latex Caulk Plus Silicone, White
393 Reviews
Dap Inc 18152 6 Pack 10.1 oz. Alex Plus Acrylic Latex Caulk Plus Silicone, White
  • DAP ALEX PLUS All Purpose Acrylic Latex Caulk Plus Silicone is an excellent quality, all purpose caulk for sealing a wide variety of interior and exterior surfaces. It contains silicone additives for greater flexibility and adhesion, and shrinks less for a durable, 100% waterproof seal.
  • ALEX PLUS is paintable in just 30 minutes with latex or oil-based paints, saving time. It will not shine through or discolor paint finish for superior paint results.
  • Easy to apply and tool, low in odor and cleans up easily with water.
  • Coverage: 55 Ft. at 3/16 In. bead for 10.1 Oz. - 30 Ft. at 3/16 In. bead for 5.5 Oz. 40 year durability. Exceeds ASTM C834.
  • Pack of 6

Where to Buy Can Spray Foam Insulation

Again, the cheapest place will be ordering online or picking it up locally at your closest Home Depot or Lowes.

You can also order it from Amazon here. Here are the top 5 spray foam packages for sale as well!

SaleBestseller No. 1
Loctite Tite Foam Big Gaps White Insulating Foam Sealant, 12 oz, 1, Can
4,714 Reviews
Loctite Tite Foam Big Gaps White Insulating Foam Sealant, 12 oz, 1, Can
  • Expands To Fill: Loctite Tite Foam Big Gaps fills, seals, and insulates effectively around gaps and cracks up to 3 inches in size
  • High Density Foam: Offers high density with a uniform cell structure for durability and overall insulation for your remodeling needs
  • Superior Flexibility: Withstands building and material movement without compromising its seal
  • Strong Adhesion: Sealant bonds to most building materials like wood, concrete, brick, stone, metal, pvc, and more
  • UV Resistance: Withstands harsh UV rays for long lasting results
Bestseller No. 3
Loctite Tite Foam Gaps & Cracks White Insulating Foam Sealant 12 fl oz, 1 Can
14,355 Reviews
Loctite Tite Foam Gaps & Cracks White Insulating Foam Sealant 12 fl oz, 1 Can
  • Expands To Fill: Loctite Tite Foam Gaps & Cracks fills, seals, and insulates effectively around gaps and cracks up to 1 inch in size
  • Premium Durability: Polymer foam based on purified and concentrated ingredients withstands harsh UV rays for long-lasting results
  • High Density Foam: Offers high density with a uniform cell structure for durability and overall insulation for your remodeling needs
  • Superior Flexibility: Withstands building and material movement without compromising its seal
  • Strong Adhesion: Sealant bonds to most building materials like wood, concrete, brick, stone, metal, pvc, and more
Bestseller No. 4
Froth-Pak 650 Spray Foam Insulation, 15 ft Hose. Improved Low GWP Formula. Insulates Cavities, Penetrations & Gaps Up to 2' Thick. Yields Up to 650 Board ft. Two Component, Polyurethane, Closed Cell
62 Reviews
Froth-Pak 650 Spray Foam Insulation, 15 ft Hose. Improved Low GWP Formula. Insulates Cavities, Penetrations & Gaps Up to 2" Thick. Yields Up to 650 Board ft. Two Component, Polyurethane, Closed Cell
  • SPECIAL NOTE! Signature Required At The Time Of Delivery. Due to the nature of this product, additional fees apply for returns in accordance with DOT guidelines. For Professional Use.
  • ENHANCED FORMULA! DuPont Froth-Paks have been redesigned for optimal performance and sustainability. IMPROVED SUSTAINABILITY! Global Warming Potential (GWP) has been reduced by 99%, with no harmful, ozone-depleting HFCs. NEW PATENED NOZZLE! Our new patented nozzle technology improves mixing ration and reduces overspray. FASTER CURING! Our tack free/cure time is the fastest in the industry at 30 seconds. REGULATORY COMPLIANCE! This formulation is compliant in all contiguous 48 states.
  • GAP FILLER! Large openings let air into a home and rob homeowners of money, energy efficiency and comfort. FROTH-PAK 650 Insulation Spray Foam is a Class A Fire Rated two-component, polyurethane foam that fills cavities, cracks & expansion joints and yields up to 650 board ft of foam (54.1-cubic ft). Can be used to insulate stud wall cavities, cold floors above unheated areas, crawl spaces, attic walls, and ceilings up to 2” thick & is Green Circle Certified, LEED V4 Compliant, and ICC listed.
  • GREAT COVERAGE! FROTH-PAK 650 Insulation Spray Foam Kit is an industry leading and customizable dispensing system helps ensure consistent flow rate, on-ratio application and complete dispensing of product. Used for both interior and exterior commercial, residential, agricultural, industrial and institutional settings in a number of applications including roof & wall junctions, wall & attic penetrations; electrical, mechanical & plumbing penetrations; cracks or crevices in the building envelope.
  • AWESOME VALUE KIT! FROTH-PAK 650 Insulation Spray Foam Kit comes packed with everything you will need. Each kit includes: 1 Part A Tank of Isocyanate, 1 Part B Tank of Polyol, 15 ft hose and INSTA-FLO Gun Dispenser & Hose Assembly, Cone Spray Anti-Crossover Nozzles (8 cone nozzles, 4 fan nozzles), 1 Petroleum Jelly Packet (5 g), and 1 Operation Instruction Manual.
SaleBestseller No. 5
Tomcat Rodent Block Expanding Foam Barrier - Specifically Formulated to Block Mice, Long Lasting and Foam Spray Keeps Mice From Coming Inside the House, 12 oz.
2,077 Reviews
Tomcat Rodent Block Expanding Foam Barrier - Specifically Formulated to Block Mice, Long Lasting and Foam Spray Keeps Mice From Coming Inside the House, 12 oz.
  • Tomcat Rodent Block Expanding Foam Barrier fills gaps and cracks to keep mice from coming inside your home
  • Spray this rodent barrier in crevices inside and outside your house, including the garage, attic, basement, and foundation
  • Expanding foam provides a long-lasting, airtight and water-resistant bond to most building materials
  • This spray-on sealant is specially formulated to block mice
  • Way to keep mice out of your house

Wrapping it Up

While there could be an endless list, I hope that this gets you started. Of course, the energy-monitoring devices can help you diagnose (and have a cool factor to show your friends), but the rest of the items have a real return on investment for not a lot of money.

There’s a good chance you could implement all the items above and easily save 10-20% on your yearly utility bill, and it’ll give you a more regulated, comfortable home as well. I’ll add some more items as time allows, but for now, good luck!

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