The Window Refrigerator, modernized from the last Depression - a green money saver

Picture of The Window  Refrigerator, modernized from the last Depression - a green money saver
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Unplug the most expensive item in your house and save $$ by keeping food fresh the old fashioned way. I asked my dad how he saved money during the depression. VOILA! The Window Refrigerator! Here is a modern version you can make for under 10$ in less than an hour. The ultimate green, non polluting appliance.
In the winter to cut electric bills (or ice bills for those still using ice boxes) people used a number of different contraptions to harness nature. In the depression, metal window boxes with sliding doors sprouted from tenement windows. People had been making them out of wood for over a century. Also known as the window shelf, this version combines the experience of the past with modern materials.

Step 1: Assemble your materials

Picture of assemble your materials
Baling wire
4 eye hooks or screws
picture hanging wire
a piece of styrofoam or cardboard
planks of wood-optional

The perfect window would be in your kitchen, north facing, and inaccessible to burglars and evil doers. most of us will have to compromise in some way. Another factor is the type of window available. Every style and size of window will need a slightly different installation process. I chose a window with an outer storm window, allowing me to pull the storm window down to the top of the box locking it into place. If you have a different type of window , adjust my instructions to suit. Some windows will need a few boards placed on the window sill for extra support, just like some air conditioner installations.
There are many types of boxes you can use .I chose a storage bin re-enforced with baling wire.
Seth Black4 years ago
...I like this idea. Thanks for sharing it. :)

With some careful planning, this idea could also easily applied to creating a viable window-mounted solar oven.

Place the refrigerator in a Northfacing window, and you've got optimum free refrigeration in the winter.

Place a solar oven in a Southfacing window and you've got free solar cooking in the summer.

Great possibilities.

Thanks again, Anima! X
CAbeachguy4 years ago
I did this in college in Boston in the wintertime. Just nailed a milk crate to the windowsill and boom, ice box/refrigerator for my 5th floor dorm room.
mrfoltz4 years ago
I think this is one of the "true" instructables!!!!

Because it's explained well and doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out or you don't have to have to have TONS of technical experience "like some of the other ones" on here... [not that they don't serve their purpose]...

I think I would build a box , insulate it and use l brackets on the bottom [no one would know if it was an air conditioner or what???

I live in Canada [ North of Grand Forks] so this would be great for spring, winter and fall!

Thanks, great ideal!
recyclebin6 years ago
is it hobo proof
Only if it is metal
this is just screaming ghetto i am sorry
Yeah Baby ! Thank you Mr Obama !
Haha, no kidding. Complete with the Obama propaganda and everything.
Dr.Bill4 years ago
We used to make em out of plywood out in the Aleutian Islands and hang em in the windows of our barracks. We could make ice and with the addition of a little insulation just keep things cold.
Definitely not a bad concept, just probably not good for ground floor in urban areas (potential for forced entry). Anything you can do to cut off an electrical device and save some $$ is worth thinking about. :)
chrisg3075 years ago
Good idea and I was thinking that if you used clear plastic box it could serve as an over-wintering spot for outdoor plants that must come in if you have a small space. Also, i keep thinking about designing the frig so that the motor's hot air blows out in summer to reduce need for AC and in for winter, and somehow uses the outdoor air in winter to help keep food cool. Seems sensible, but i don't have the engineering brain for that I guess.
When my mom was very poor, this was the only way she had to keep her little bit of food cold in the winter.  Thanks for the helpful suggestion.  In these difficult economic times, (example: my husband was out of work for a whole year, ) money saving ideas are especially appreciated!
rbodell6 years ago
When I was living on long island on my sailboat I used to put food under the snow on deck. Since the snow never got colder than 32, it took a while for things like hamburger to freeze. Drinks and stuff I just kept one or two outside the hatch where I could grab one quick. I only kept what I was going to drink soon.
smokin joe6 years ago
The loss of heat from the instrucable pictures would negate any cooling effect. Besides, I have room in my fridge for more than 2 sodas. Keep trying! I like it.
chuckr446 years ago
Good idea. It would be nice if modern refrigerators used cold air automatically, during the winter.
Very Keri6 years ago
Very "cool" idea, but I don't know if I would keep my milk in there... Then again, I live in the subtropics where this would be useless anyway. :P
CaseyCase6 years ago
Some neighborhood vandal stuck an Obama sign on your window refrigerator! Those pesky kids!
Anima! X (author)  CaseyCase6 years ago
akshually, i fink teh kitteh dood it. those pesky cats!
agreed, this should be what happend.