Shh… don't tell anyone I'm poor. They all think I'm living frugal and green just like everyone these days. This is a blog about a senior citizen living a frugal life, on a fixed income, in a low income food desert, and passing along knowledge from lessons learned. Some she learned from her Grandma Mama many years ago and some learned only a few days ago.
I saw the news reports of the extremely high 120 degree heat in the southwest USA. I do hope readers living in those areas stay safe and stay cool. I believe green house gasses are going to make our lives even more miserable as the planet heats up. The news reminded me that I should do more to prepare just in case we also get a heat wave in this area.
Last fall I watched a Masterpiece movie series on PBS that was called Indian Summers. In the scenery some of the characters kept walking through rows and rows and rows of fabric hanging on clothes lines. I thought gee whiz they sure do a lot of laundry in India. But, it turns out that wasn’t laundry at all, it was row upon row of free air conditioning. I don’t know if that is still done or not but in the high heat environment of India wet fabric was hung to catch a breeze. Wind blowing through the wet fabric cools the air. More wet fabric, more cool air. That’s why there was row upon row of them. It was cooling the air around the buildings where people lived and worked. How thrifty is that?
That really intrigued me so I decided to do more research into how people in India and other high heat areas keep cool when they have no electricity. In my search I found a video of a man in Bangladesh using empty pop bottles to create a solar air conditioner for use by people without electricity. I thought, naw, that can’t be real. That has got to be more internet pop science nonsense. It has to be one of those fake things that somehow gets believed anyway.
I have a very inquisitive but skeptical mind. Even though my mind says this pop bottle air conditioner is absurd my curiosity took over and I wanted to see for myself if it actually works. It couldn’t hurt to test it. If you haven’t seen this before I’ll put a youtube link of the pop bottle air conditioner below.
I didn’t have any empty pop bottles but I did have juice bottles. I used a few of them to create a small version of the bottle air conditioner. I used foam board as the bottle holder instead of plywood. Its only an experiment to see if it actually works so it doesn’t have to be perfect.
What I learned about putting this together is that its best to cut the little plastic ring off the bottle neck so the bottles hold in the foam board better. Simply pushing the box cutter blade into the top works better (and less dangerous) than trying to cut across the top.
For my experiment I cut it the width of the board by 6 inches because that’s the height of the window security stops. I marked a line down the center then lined up the bottles on that line. Traced around the tops to know where to put the holes. This is how it looked when finished.
I put it in the window and then taped over the gap above with clear packing tape.
Ok, it works. Umm… maybe. I used an incense stick to check for air flow. Yes, there is airflow and it does feel cool but I don’t believe its because of the bottles. I can get the same cooling airflow by simply opening windows.
I do know about creating cooling breezes by cross ventilation air flow. Grandma Mama taught me. Open one window on the cool side of the house and one on the opposite side of the house. Open two windows on the ground floor and one on the second floor to create a chimney effect to draw in cooling breezes. People in hot climates have done these things for centuries. Its the same science behind using whirling roof top vents or whole house fans or wind towers.
My personal opinion, the pop bottle air conditioner is nonsense. There first must be a breeze outside for it to flow through the bottles. The temperature of the air does not change simply by going through a small opening. It may feel cooler directly in front of the breeze but quickly takes on the temperature of the room. I believe the people in Bangladesh would do much better by cutting a small opening in the tin roof to create a chimney effect breeze and hang wet fabric in front of open windows. The hot air rising would draw in air from open windows, through the wet fabric, through the house, and up through the hole in the roof. The opening could be covered with a cap to keep out the rain in the same way any type roof vent works.
Just in case you are a curious person like me here is the link to the video of the man making air conditioners from pop bottles and giving them away. Here is another link to the same type bottle air conditioner in another country. It’s catching on and doing that viral thing. Just goes to show you there are many people searching for ways to cut expenses. Um… and lots of people willing to believe anything.