This week at Treehugger: Solar-power baby steps: take one room of your house off the grid. Discover the Giatex, a stretching bike that folds neatly or grows along with your kid; and speaking of bikes, the Nakano Air Hub is a gadget that allows bicycle tires to self-inflate. Finally, the Desktop Windmill is a cool piece of software that tracks weather data and shows you how much energy your house would generate if it had a micro-wind turbine. Read on for more details.
Not ready or can't afford to go completely off-grid? No problem, do it incrementally by converting just one room to solar power. We've already written about the >$600 DIY solar kit, and it is a good starter kit, but this is significantly cheaper and easier, and it can give you a small taste of energy independence before you decide if you want to go further.
Remember back to the bicycle you got all those Christmases ago, when you still had braces on your teeth? How you grew out of it so fast? Well, Giatex is a bike you can grow into. It stretches as you do. From being age six, up until you are six foot tall. Unlike the hinges on a folding bike, the Giatex has an adjustable sliding central tube. The wheels are slightly offset, so they can slip beside one another, when packing the bike it up. And the pedals even flip up at the press of a button.
The Nakano Air Hub is the "world's first automatic air replacement device for bicycle tires." Energy from the spinning wheel sets up a rotary cam action, that feeds a pump inside the hub, which in turns keep your tyres at the correct air pressure. Without any over-inflation, due a special valve. But there is a catch for real lazy types. The bike must be ridden at least 1.8 miles (3 km) a month to work properly.
The Desktop Windmill is a cool little software gadget created by the UK Design Council. The idea behind it is that if we could see how much energy we use, like a phone bill, and how much we could make from renewable sources, then we would be more aware and try to save and produce more. Using weather data from the internet, it will show you how much energy you could produce with your own wind turbine and how much toast it would make (we suppose that toasts are a big more visual than watts)!
Treehugger s EcoModo column appears every Tuesday on Gizmodo.