Staying cool when it's hot as Hades outside can be a real challenge if your air conditioner is too small to service the space you're trying to keep cool or your machine broke and you're too poor at the moment to get it fixed. Here are a few easy air conditioning hacks that can help keep your home from turning into one giant oven.
Problem: The Air Conditioner Doesn't Cool the Entire Area
Solution: This is a common problem that affects people who use window units. Either the unit is too small to properly cool down the entire space, or it's located in an area that prevents the cool air from circulating to other parts of the home. For instance, an a/c unit located in the bedroom may keep that room like an icebox but the cold air never makes it to the living room.
One option to fix this problem is to employ the use of fans to help circulate the air. Since warm air rises, you'll want to put a medium-sized fan at the top of the entryway of the room you want to cool and set it facing the direction of the room where the air conditioner is. The head should be angled downward and the speed on low. This will help push the warm air out of the area.
Meanwhile, place a second medium-sized fan on the floor at the entryway of the room where the a/c unit sits and direct it towards the warm area. Since cold air falls downward, you'll need to angle the fan upwards to prevent the cool air from simply settling around the floor. The fan speed should also be set on low. Do not use a higher speed as this will cause turbulence in the air which will send it bouncing around rather than smoothly circulating between the rooms.
Problem: You Have No Air Conditioning at All
Solution: If you don't have an a/c unit or your current machine is broken, there are two hacks you can use to keep cool. The simplest one that uses the least amount of materials involves freezing a large bottle of water and setting it in front of a fan. The bottle shouldn't be more than two-thirds full. As the ice melts, the fan will blow the cold air around the room. You can also accomplish this with a bowl of ice.
An alternative option is to fill a Styrofoam cooler with ice or ice packs. Cut vents out on the side and a hole in the lid just big enough to place a fan over without it falling into the melting ice. When you turn the fan on, cool air will blow out the vents. You can help further circulate the cool air by placing small fans nearby.
To maximize the coolness factor, open the window a crack. Spray your drapes with cold water and close them. When the breeze flows through, the dampened fabric will cool the air and help bring the temperature in the space to a bearable level.
The other option for resolving a no air conditioner situation is to build your own using simple materials you may already have on hand or can obtain inexpensively from a local retail store. The process is a little more involved and is best done as a weekend project.
To make your own air conditioner you'll need:
- A medium to large square or round fan
- About 10 feet of 1/4-inch copper tubing
- Strong string, clamps, or zip ties
- A pump
- About 4 feet of 1/4-inch inner diameter plastic tubing cut into two pieces
- A cooler filled with ice water
Take the face of the fan off and attach the copper tubing to the back (side facing the fan blades) using the string, clamps, or zip ties. Be certain to slip about six inches of each end of the tubing through the holes in the fan so you can connect it to the plastic tubing. Put the cover back on the fan.
Use one of the plastic tubes to connect one end of the copper tube to the pump and submerge the pump into the cold water. Create an exit for the water by connecting the second plastic tube to the second end of the copper tube and put it in the cooler or an empty bucket.
Turn the pump on to start pushing the water through the tubing and then turn on the fan. As the cold water is pushed through the tube, the fan will blow the cold air into the room. To continue the air conditioning effect, simply refill the cooler with more ice water. If you're a visual learner, you can find video instructions for this project here.
Although these hacks will work well in the short term, it's best to learn more and connect with an air conditioning specialist who can fix your existing a/c or recommend a unit that will better fit your needs.