Whether you’re camping, building the cabin out in the woods, planning for power outages (or Armageddon?) or going off the grid for good, these 10 power and water-saving projects can help you cut your electricity use, water waste, and get you by on a “less is more” mentality.
1. Make Your Own Miniature Wind Turbine
Why spend $20,000 on a store bought wind turbine kit when you can build your own out of a bunch of PVC and a box fan? As you perfect the smaller versions for limited energy production, you can move on to bigger and better!
Get the specifics from Popular Mechanics, here: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/how-to/g118/make-your-own-miniature-wind-turbine/
2. Build a Backyard Wood-Fired Pompeii Oven
More commonly known as “pizza ovens,” an outdoor Pompeii oven allows you to conveniently and thoroughly cook items like bread (or pizza, of course) without electricity. They’re extremely sturdy and can be built just about anywhere.
See how one Brooklyn man installed one in his backyard: http://lifehacker.com/5286115/build-a-backyard-wood-fired-pompeii-oven/
3. Or…Learn How to Make a Rocket Stove
Use cans that you already have laying around to build a small Rocket Stove for warming up soups and stews. All you need for fuel is smaller pieces of wood and kindling that slide right into the opening at the bottom.
Get step-by-step instructions on how to make one for nearly no cost at all, here: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-Rocket-Stove-from-a-10-Can-and-4-So/
4. Build a Solar Panel on Your Own
A lot of people are turned off by the high cost of installing professionally made solar panels, but you can actually build your own and save a lot of money in the process.
This engineering student built a 63 watt system on his own and has a link to a how-to video, here: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Build-A-Solar-Panel/
5. Build a Mini Root Cellar
If you’re not quite ready to use your tractor to build a large, walk-in root cellar, you can start out with a miniature version using only a shovel and a box (or ice chest.) The size is perfect for a small vegetable garden when you need to extend how long you can preserve your ready-to-eat produce.
Get the step-by-step instructions on building a mini wood root cellar here: http://gardenclub.homedepot.com/build-a-mini-root-cellar/
6. Learn How to Build a Solar Bottle Bulb
Are you looking for a way to light up your off-the-grid cabin without electricity? Install these solar bottles to amplify natural lighting from the outdoors. They’re even being used in 3rd word countries to make it easier to work indoors when there’s no electric lighting or lanterns available.
Start saving your two liter soda bottles and get the directions here: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-build-a-SOLAR-BOTTLE-BULB/
…But What About Water Use?
It’s estimated that most homes in the United States go through about 400 gallons of water each day. While fixing your leaky faucets and pipes and turning off your tap when you’re not actually using it can help, here are a few more ideas to help reduce how much water you rely on (which can come in really handy during water shortages!)
7. Install a Rainwater Harvesting System
Depending on the legality of rain water harvesting where you live, rainwater harvesting systems can help you put a dent in the 100,000+ gallons of municipal or well water you’re using each year. Most of the collection barrels are made of wood, metal, or plastic.
Attach a spigot and use your collection container anytime. Get more details here: http://bluelivingideas.com/2009/07/28/reduce-tip-reduce-water-waste-installing-rainwater-harvesting-system/
8. Reuse Grey Water in the Home and Yard
For keeping your lawn or garden watered, consider reusing grey water from your home. This can help you to save fresh, clean water for more important needs.
Read this important post on differentiating the different types of grey waters that may or may not be safe for reuse, and where you should use it: http://www.treehugger.com/green-home/how-reuse-grey-water-home-and-yard.html
9. Install a Composting Toilet
New toilets use over a gallon of water per flush (older models can be more than three!) “If it’s yellow let it mellow” can save a few gallons, but a composting toilet can put your flushes to good use.
Get the directions and how to use the three-part composting plan, here: http://www.compostjunkie.com/composting-toilet-plans.html
10. DIY Water Filters
Maybe you have a water source that needs filtration before it’s safe or clean enough for your family to consume. There are a variety of different DIY water filters that you can easily build with everyday materials.
Here are 5 different techniques to help you have an idea on how to get started: http://all-about-water-filters.com/top-easiest-diy-water-filters-you-can-make-at-home/