Instructables

Homeowners go greener with do-it-yourself jobs

Michael Davis and his 60 Watt DIY Solar panel were mentioned in SFGate's Homeowners go greener with do-it-yourself jobs.

Like a lot of Bay Area homeowners, Alissa Hauser and husband Steve Brown have already done the small things to save on utility bills and pursue a green life: lower the thermostat, install energy-efficient lightbulbs, use old T-shirts for rags instead of paper towels.

But earlier this month, the East Bay couple took a longer stride into the do-it-yourself green home improvement era by spending a Saturday afternoon routing gray water pipes from their laundry machine to their garden. Now, each time they run a load of dirty clothes, the excess H{-2}O runs through a filtering system that waters their apple, plum and lemon trees. "In many ways, environmentalism has become an expensive, consumer-driven effort," Hauser, a director at a nonprofit, said. "But this kind of project proves environmentalism can be a money-saving lifestyle, too."

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Michael Davis, a Florida inventor who owns property in the Arizona desert, became a minor DIY Internet sensation on the environmental Web site treehugger.com last month when he posted a step-by-step guide on building a homemade solar panel system for $105.

Davis said he needed the free electricity to power tools and equipment on his property near Arizona's Painted Desert, where he relies mostly on a generator. He bought used and blemished solar panels off eBay for about $30 and strung together a bootleg unit that managed to power 60 watts of free juice, enough to recharge his drill overnight - a small but important step in the DIY quest to corral solar energy on the cheap.

Davis' panels also received high attention on instructables.com, the San Francisco-based Web site that has become a popular destination for do-it-yourselfers looking for detailed instructions. Since the site added a green section last year, users worldwide have contributed more than 120 blueprints on green home improvement projects, everything from contraptions to convert attic heat into hot water to tinning a roof with aluminum cans.

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