Life hacks: You've probably seen them. One of the internet's newest fads, their purpose is to show people, "hey, make your life easier by doing this one simple thing you otherwise would never have thought of." Often, the "hack" uses an ordinary household item in place of what could be a pricey novelty gadget; for instance, using a fork to balance tortilla shells instead of a taco holder.
But have you ever found yourself wondering if these "simple everyday solutions" are legit? Do they really work? Well, look no further.
Our first Does It Work involves a video posted to YouTube in August 2013. In it, user desertsun02 claims that with seven simple and affordable parts, anyone can turn a five gallon hardware store bucket into a homemade air cooler. With traditional air conditioning units starting around $100 and then adding significant $$$ to energy bills to keep them running, cheap alternatives appeal to just about anyone. But does a 5 gallon bucket, a large block of ice, and a desk fan provide comparable cooling to an actual AC unit? To find out, I'd have to build my own and put it to the test.
First, I needed a generic five gallon bucket, which can be found at a major chain hardware store. I then drilled three holes into the side of the bucket using a 2 1/4" hole saw bit for the air vents. Next, I needed a styrofoam insert cooler to drop into the bucket. These are a little harder to come by in the store, but I was able to order a 3-pack directly from HomeDepot.com. After sliding the cooler into the bucket, I used the holes I previously drilled as guides for drilling 3 holes into the styrofoam (using a 2 1/8" hole saw bit). I then inserted a 1 1/2" PVC coupler (found in the plumbing section) into each hole, to function as air vents. Finally, I took an ordinary 6" clip-on fan and used it to measure for holes in the lids of both the styrofoam cooler and bucket and cut those out with a utility knife. I dropped a frozen gallon of water inside, put the lids in place, sat the fan over the hole up top, and ¡voila! Finished air conditioner/cooler. Total build time: about an hour.