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Make More, Waste Less: Five Energy-Saving Projects for a More Efficient Home

GOOD and Nest teamed up to bring you five energy-saving projects for a more efficient home.

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This spring, GOOD and Nest teamed up to seek out five inventive, hands-on solutions for energy-efficient living. For this Home Planet Challenge, we asked you to make, fix, tinker, reinvent, or create something to turn up the efficiency and turn down the waste around your home. The rules were simple: It must cost less than $250 and only use materials found in your household or hardware store. After narrowing the field to 19 of the most intriguing ideas, we invited the public to vote for the five best ideas.

Now, make your way through these five winning Dos to not only personally build yourself a more energy efficient home, but for us all, for a better future for Mother Earth.

1. Keep cool with a DIY air conditioner

Whether you use this simple homemade A/C unit to cool yourself down or to keep a pet comfortable while you’re out, a Styrofoam cooler might be the most ecologically sound purchase you make all summer. You can build this unit for under $15, and, when fall comes, repurpose it as a handy beer cooler.

2. Create your own solar cooker

Les Stroud meets Julia Child, for under $10. When you dig into a solar-cooked meal, you save energy twice: You’re not using gas/electricity, and this solar cooker won’t heat up your home like a traditional oven.

3. Build a stationary bike energy generator

This build takes skill, but the reward is worth some (literal) sweat equity: Your technology will be powered by pedaling your new stationary bike. Charge your smartphone as you spin or provide the juice for your own reading light while burning off some extra calories.

4. Cool your home with an automated fan

Use IFTTT (If This, Then That) and a WeMo switch to teach your old window fan new tricks. Get the fan going automatically when your home is too hot for comfort, and program it ahead of time to shut off when the temperature drops.

5. Heat yourself, not your space

Why heat an entire building just to warm the few square feet your body occupies? It’s not your icebox office or drafty living room that needs warming – it’s you, and a few things you’re using right now. Build your own micro-heated workstation and you can read GOOD all day long in toasty comfort, without the waste.


The Home Planet Challenge is brought to you by GOOD and Nest.

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