WASHINGTON - There's no doubt about it: summer is here! And if you haven’t noticed, the first heat wave of the year is no joke. The extended forecast is calling for temps in the mid 90s through Saturday with a heat index near or above 100 degrees. Cooling off is going to become essential, especially for the young, elderly, or disabled.
Sure, you can cool off in a local swimming hole. But what about at home? Hopefully you have central A/C or, at least air conditioning units at home. But if you're really in a pinch to stay cool, you can construct you own DIY air conditioner using a few items from the hardware store.
We found this cool video online that shows you how to build a working A/C unit using ice, a fan, and a 5-gallon bucket. If you want to try it, here's your shopping list:
- 5 gallon bucket - $4
- Styrofoam bucket liners - $18
- PVC pipe - $7
- Mini fan - $10
- Hole drill bit - $8
And if you don’t already have them , you’ll also need a drill and a utility knife.
Once you've got all the goods, here are the steps to follow:
1. Drill your holes through the bucket and the liner.
2. Insert the pieces of PVC into the holes.
3. Cut your hole in the lid of the bucket and the lid of the liner, making it large enough to fit the front face of the fan.
4. You’re almost done! Add a gallon jug of frozen water inside. Close the lid and turn on the fan. (Watch the video for detailed instructions.)
In the video, the air temperature readings from the DIY bucket A/C were in the 40s. In total, you're spending around $50 – but users posted tips online like shopping around at dollar stores or discount hardware stores for cheaper parts. They also said using frozen saltwater makes for a longer cooling period.
This is a fun project to try that is fairly quick and easy to do. But DIY is not for everyone. If you'd rather buy a unit and be done with it, window A/C units online price at about $115. This will give you a large enough unit to cool a small room (probably a little better than this DIY A/C option).
Whether you buy an A/C unit or make your own, just make sure you have access to a place to cool your body during this crazy heat wave. If you need ideas, check out this list of cool DC-area swimming holes for great places to cool off.
Stay cool, stay hydrated and stay safe!