Editor's Note: This is a guest post by Lorna Li.
Want to have some fun while also conserving energy and reducing your carbon footprint? These unusual power-generating systems are sure to make your friends and neighbors take notice.
Everyone knows that you can put solar panels on your roof, use a dual-flush toilet, or install a tankless water heater if you want to conserve resources in your home, but there's nothing exciting or unique about these green upgrades. The key to making conservation a regular part of home life is designing technologies that can be integrated seamlessly into the structure and decoration of the building.
Here are 3 unique ways that you can generate power, and an interest in sustainable living, just by making your home more beautiful!
Inspired by the ivy that decorates the exterior walls of older brick homes and reflects the organic essence of nature, Solar Ivy (also pictured at top) was designed by siblings Samuel and Teresita Cochran for a thesis on Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology in 2005. Lightweight and flexible, this "ivy" can be mounted on to a vertical wall, not only creating a pleasing aesthetic but also expanding the area of power generation. Each "leaf" features a thin photovoltaic panel, and 500 of them on a sunny wall can generate close to 250 watts of power.
German designer Christoph Thetard has created a set of human-powered kitchen gadgets entitled R2B2. The complete set includes a hand blender, coffee grinder and food processor all tucked into a single wooden case outfitted with a pedal-powered drive mechanism. The appliances are powered by a manual pedal attached to a fly wheel and can reach speeds up to 400 rpm. Watch the video above to learn how you can help bring this brilliant design to market!
Did you know that most of the energy used to boil a pot of water on your stove is wasted in the form of excess heat? Earlier this year, a Japanese company called TES NewEnergyCorporation released a new product that can capture this wasted heat and use it to charge your portable electronics instead. The Hitochaja HC-5 USB power pot can generate up to 400mAh of juice -- enough to charge your iPhone in three to five hours, but with a price tag of around $280, this is probably one idea that's more unique than practical.