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Steve Hoefer Mini Blind Minder project,.

Steve Hoefer’s Mini Blind Minder project,.

I’m putting together a piece for MAKE on money-saving home hacks/projects. The idea here is to assemble a collection of maker projects that can save real money, either in the short term or over the long haul. I’m looking for unique maker projects here, not just quick tips, repairs, or common things like “Do an energy audit and add more insulation.” I’m looking for things like home energy monitoring/control systems/home automation, resource management projects, in-kitchen food gardens, etc. These should be proven projects that save significant dough. Any ideas? Please share and you might see your suggested project end up in MAKE! (And you’ll get credit for your contribution.)

And while it’s perfectly OK to think out loud here and brainstorm ideas, I’m looking for existing projects with a track record for the article. Include project links in your comments.

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.



  1. JE Carter II says:

    Adding a timer for electric water heaters is up there in the DIY at your own risk as it can involve serious amounts of electricity. However, it has been the single most cost-effective thing I have done to save money on energy.

    “The Little Grey Box” is an eletro-mechanical device that goes inline with a 220V water heater over 2-12 wire. They cost about $40 and it paid for itself in less than a couple of months.

    Data provided here:

    In hard numbers, this saved more than our expensive, triple pane window replacements in a shorter period of time.

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