I recently upgraded my account to premium due to the awesomeness of this website and the help that I have received from total strangers online. Since I have upgraded my account, I feel like I have an obligation to help brewers newer than myself with things that I have tried that they may not know about. Since I am a new brewer myself (2 kits that came out ok, first all-grain in the primary that I did with awesome technique) the only thing I felt like I could share was my experience with my swamp cooler for the first time.
For those of you who are new and are having trouble with fermentation temperature control, a swamp cooler is a cheap, and in my opinion efficient way to start controlling fermentation temperature for ales. It might be difficult to get temps low enough to lager. However, when I first started brewing I had no idea what a swamp cooler was or how it worked, etc. Below I have a couple of pictures to show what I have been doing and how I like it so far.
The top picture is a picture of my swamp cooler overall. Basically a swamp cooler is a big bucket that I got at wal-mart for $10, I used the bucket to lower my wort temperature after my boil and it worked fast, about 30-40 minutes to cool from 212 F to 70 F. After I pitched my yeast I put my fermentation bucket in the swamp cooler with 2-3 gallons of water and 1/2 oz of starsan and I fluctuate between 3-4 frozen water bottles at any given time. I used an old t-shirt that I get soaked with water two to three times a day to try to insulate my cooler all around.
I usually have to switch out the frozen water bottles in the morning before work, when I get home ~ 8 hours later, and at night before going to bed. As you can see in the bottom picture I am maintaining a constant 60 F for the majority of the day (wort temps in the fermentation bucket can be anywhere from 8 - 10 degrees hotter during hardcore fermentation and 2-3 degrees hotter than the swamp water during the later phases of fermentation).
I hope this helps new brewers or any brewer who is interested in a swamp cooler. Good luck, guys.