The average American family spends around $200 per month on their electric, water, and gas bill.
But as winters get colder and summers get hotter, we're spending way more money than we used to.
Unfortunately, there's no way to skip paying your utility bill, but there is a way to save money each month.
All you need are a lot of empty soda cans and a little bit of time on your hands. Trust me, taking a little bit of time out of your day to make this will save you lots of money in the long run!
DIY Solar Panel
When Terry Johnson was looking for budget-friendly ways to heat his home, he found a design for a solar heat collector that he couldn't resist making.
"[We had] one of those houses which was pleasantly cool in the summer but freezing in the winter," he said. "We needed something to make it thermally efficient but didn't have a big budget."
According to Stuff, a New Zealand news site, the electrical engineer spent a couple of weekends collecting aluminum cans and constructing the panel he needed to effectively heat his home.
The panel was able to warm his home by four to seven degrees! And the best part is that it only cost him around $1.50 every year to run.
How To Make Your Own
With the help of friends, Terry was able to accumulate 272 coke and beer cans to begin his project.
He cut the bottom of the empty cans, making baffles on the top to help direct the air. Then he glued the aluminium cans in sets of three.
The cans were spray painted matte black to help the air inside heat up, and then fitted into a plywood box frame. Make sure you lay a sheet of polycarbonate over the top of the frame.
Wherever your house gets a lot of sun in the morning, make a hole on the outside wall. This part is the most important, you want your homemade solar panel to absorb as much heat as possible!
If you haven't done any home projects before, make sure you hire a professional or get help from a handyman friend to get the last part done for you. You don't want to risk damaging your home!
"You need to make sure you maintain weather-tightness and have adequate flashings to prevent rot and degradation. And if you put one in the roof and didn't have good forced convection with fans, it could get really hot and create a fire risk," Terry cautioned.
What Else You Need To Know
In the photo above, you can see the end result of Terry's efforts.
This panel heater only cost him around $400 to make, but it's saved him a lot of money in the long run.
The only downside is that the device only works when the sun is shining on it. So, if you live in a city that is always cloudy, this project may not be worth it.
Also, these solar panels can get very hot! If you do end up making one, make sure you don't touch it during the day.
This is an idea you definitely want to consider tackling in the next few months. Winters are getting colder, but that doesn't mean our wallets have to suffer!
Would you consider making one of these solar panels to save money on your utility bill?
Here are other DIY that you may want to try: