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Anyone done inventive DIY stuff to save energy?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I have done a few things around the house that I just sorta made up as a way to save energy, but still have the device function appropriately.


I'll start with my garage door opener:

Like all true South Orange County home-owners - my family tends to use the automatic garage door opener more than the front door!?!  We are a very social neighborhood, so it actually makes sense.  We get home (dodging all the kids in the street) and when we pull in our driveway, we open the garage automatic door, our kids jump out and grab footballs, skateboards, bikes, etc. and join their friends, while the wife and I unload what's left...


But this uses electricity in the form of a motor, two 60-watt light bulbs (part of the unit), and the remote sensor - while the friggin front door ... uses nothing except a key and our human muscles. the front door is the better choice - from a green perspective - but frankly the kids will open the big garage door for their toys once in the house anyway so really saving a step.   This is one battle I have let go of.


But I can make it less energy intensive.  The motor and remote sensor I cannot do much about.  So I thought for a time about the bulbs and how to work out lighting on the cheap that still functioned well enough for the wife to be OK with it.


Plan A:  Removed both 60 watt incandescents.  Replaced with CFLs.  After a couple weeks, one failed.  ... then the other failed a few weeks later.  Hmmmm.  Vibration and CFLs is not a good mix.  Properly disposed of wrecked bulbs...


Plan B:  Mounted a shiny metal shop light to the ceiling (pointing straight down) by clipping it to an angle bracket that originally was for a 2x4 framing project.  Screwed an outlet adapter into one of the now empty light sockets in the garage door opener unit.  Neatly fished the plug for the shop light down to the socket.  Installed a 13 watt CFL into the shop light.   No vibration transfers to it.  Has worked for about 16 months with no bulb replacement.  Is brighter than original unit setup because the incancescants were in the white plastic cover which dimmed their light.  Saves 107 watts every time we use the door - which is several times a day, about 5 minutes of light each time. may be kinda silly, but it works and saves energy!

post #2 of 10

The one I can think of that was DIY was build a worm farm for composting.  We (read hubbie) made it from a 18gallon Rubbermaid Tote, a plastic water bottle, and screening.  It only took about 10 minutes to put it all together.

So far the worms seem to be happy in their homemade abode.


Lets see if I can post a picutre...


not a picture but at least a link.

Edited by herodrx1 - Wed, 25 Jun 2008 20:40:13 UTC
post #3 of 10

good idea about the garage door light.


I've made my own rain barrel and composting barrel, replaced a few light fixtures with ceiling fans, not especially inventive stuff though...

post #4 of 10

Keep these ideas coming because I'd love to have a project for this weekend.


I live in an absolutely microscopic apartment, so to be honest I don't waste very much, but I'd really like to try out something fun...I've always been a fan of the Erdem Selek dish drainer (it was one of the first things I added to Hudder because I thought it was a perfect balance of form/function) - maybe I'll try something similar.


Nice work on the garage SoCal!

post #5 of 10

I put up some Smart Power Strips onto the outlets that my computers are plugged into, this is an excellent and simple DIY project anyone can do and you'll see some savings just by eliminating your vampire loads. We had a laser printer running 24/7, now with the smart power strip, it automatically shuts off when we arent using it!

post #6 of 10

My hubbie is planning on building pedal type generator this weekend.  It sounds like a fairly easy project.  I'll let you know how it goes. 


post #7 of 10

I wonder if you could set up something for a garage door that used weights to open the door instead of a motor? So when you push the remote, it releases a weight that pulls the door up?


We also live in tiny apartment, but are always talking about the things we want to do once we get a house - things like composting, using grey water etc. I know apartment living is more environmentally friendly, but we want to get out of the inner city (too much air pollution) and have space for a veggie garden!

post #8 of 10

I did start constructing my own (really) small VAWT and generator but I got busy with other stuff and have yet to get around to finishing it...

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

All great stuff!


To help keep my attic more cool - or at least not quite so hot to help out my HVAC - I put a 10w (12v) solar module on my roof, fished the wire in thru a dormer to an 12v automotive circuit breaker with 6 attachment points.  From there I attached a small 12v fan blowing out the same dormer, and another a ways away blowing in from the gable vent aimed towards the ridge of the roof (which then by current ends up at the previously mentioned dormer vent). 


It's not exactly cool in my attic, but it is quite a bit cooler than it was.  Simple system runs when the sun is up only. 


Note:  If you do powered attic ventilation a good idea to install a thermal fuse so if there is a fire in the attic for some reason, it will blow, and turn off the fans.  Obviously you don't want to turn your attic into a blast furnace in case of a fire...

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Kiwi - I think the original garage door openers decades ago used counter-weights... think I saw that on a "Modern Marvels" episode about home tech, on Discovery Channel.


I recently realized that one of our bedroom ceiling fans (which can't be used as a fan due to bunk-bed) is hard wired on all the time - uses a wireless remote mounted in the wall in place of the switch for a half-hot outlet (which is now full hot - another story...).  Anyway - that remote system has a unit in the ceiling that is hidden, but always on and waiting for a signal from the remote.  I don't know how much it uses in vampire power, but many "remote" utilizing devices pull 2 watts all the time, 24/7!!!  It's coming out this week, but due to the existing wiring (to long to explain here, LOL!!!) this small job will end up taking a few days... rrrr.  But worth it. 

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