The more we walk down our path of thrifty and frugal living, the more I realize that one central key to it all is creativity.
What do I mean? When your family runs into a scenario and you face that critical decision-making situation – you will often have a quick, obvious answer that will cost more than you want to spend (often a lot more than you want or are prepared to spend). But its those who sit back and try to find an alternative idea – that often costs much less – that can call themselves thrifty.
Its the creative ones that apply a little ingenuity that save their money but solve the same problem in a more creative way. This article seeks to help give yet another creative idea implemented – with a much cheaper price tag. Just over $25 to be exact.
The temperature here is climbing – with a few days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (sorry to our friends in Phoenix and elsewhere – I know you’ve had that for months now :)). A friend of mine from work (I refer to him as Mr. Wizard – you’ll see why soon) was struggling to keep his house cool. What’s the first thing he could have done? Run down to Home Depot or Lowes and pick up an air conditioner for a pretty penny. Well, Mr. Wizard likes to think outside the box, searched the web for a couple of ideas and came up with a creative and unique solution – a more fun solution – the DIY easy homemade air conditioner!
Items you will need:
- styrofoam cooler (recommended 45 quart)
- household fan (he splurged and bought the $15 higher-quality fan at Walgreens to generate more output)
- 24-pack of water bottles
- 2 PVC elbow pipe fittings
- knife to cut the holes for the attachments
Instructions (with design considerations):
- Obtain the styrofoam cooler and cut your holes on top – Remember its going to be easier to cut smaller and enlarge the holes as needed as the cooler is the second largest expense of the project. As mentioned above, he recommends using the 45 quart cooler to allow a larger space to enclose more ice-water bottles. Because he can fit 24 bottles into the contraption he can cool down his house (especially his living room and kitchen living areas) for a longer time – up to 6-7 hours.
- Place the PVC elbow fittings in the cooler and face them with discretion – You may wonder, “Why add the PVC elbows at all? Why not simply cut a hole and allow the air to blow out?” Well this design gives you a couple of nice benefits. First, you can protect any electronics or other delicate items by facing your PVC fittings away from those items. Second, as you sit back and enjoy the cool air you just might want to face it in your general direction. Just don’t let the other family members know what you’re doing – you just might be in the dog house over that one!
- Freeze the water bottles and space them out in the cooler with as much separation as possible – You may wonder why we’re emphasizing the space. The more cold surface area you can direct your air over – the cooler your output air will be as you can maximize the contact area. Obviously your mileage may vary depending on the humidity and starting temperature of the air.
- Close the lid, turn on your fan and enjoy! – Obviously you should check for leaks in the water bottles and check for condensation around and under the unit. Sit back and love the cooler air – and all the money you saved in the process with your very own DIY easy homemade air conditioner!
Of course – being Mr. Wizard – he measured the temperature of the air flowing out of his homemade air conditioner – a nice, frigid 40 degrees Fahrenheit. And as mentioned above, as it lasts 6-7 hours, he can turn on the air conditioner in the afternoon and run it until 9-10 pm at night.
Would it have been an easier decision to have quickly ran to the store and pick up a multi-hundred dollar air conditioner? Maybe. Was it more creative and a general blast to build his own DIY easy homemade air conditioner while being more thrifty? You bet!
We would love to hear from you about other ideas where you have taken the less-trodden path – that of the creative and alternative ideas to help you save money in your family. Email them to us with some pictures and we would love to post them!
A huge thanks to Mr. Wizard for sharing his pictures and story with us!