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Energy tip #6: tame your fridge

refrigerator.gifThe scene: ‘Twas a typical night in the Johnson house. The 1.8 cars resting in the driveway and 2.2 children scarfing down chicken soup and fresh greens at the dinner table. But, just when dinner was coming to a close and with sleep time beckoning, Lynda perpetrated the pecuniary mistake of putting warm soup directly in the fridge. $.03 — gone. Never to be seen again.

The crime: Eating up your discretionary spending.

The suspect: Your circa 1971 refrigerator, a.k.a, ‘The Fridge.’

Okay, so it may have just been a few pennies, but there are a number a ways we can avoid throwing money away and save energy, including refraining from putting warm food in the fridge. The following suggestions represent one detective’s way to solve the matters at hand:

  • Set the temperature for only as cold as you need. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Don’t keep that old, inefficient refrigerator running in the basement for occasional refreshments. It could cost you $150 or more per year in electricity.
  • Resist the temptation to overfill the refrigerator, as this blocks air circulation. Conversely, a full freezer will perform better than an empty one.
  • Check your refrigerator’s door seal by closing the door on a $5 bill. If it’s held tightly in place, the seal’s OK; if not, the door should be adjusted or the seal replaced.
  • Clean your refrigerator’s coils and air intake grill every 3 months.
  • Keep refrigerators and freezers out of direct sunlight, and allow at least a few centimetres all around (or as recommended by the manufacturer) to allow heat to escape from the compressor and condensing coil.
  • Allow hot foods to cool before putting them in the refrigerator. Learn from Lynda’s mistake.

Apart from these energy saving tips which will no doubt help secure a nice nest egg, the following is a spreadsheet based example of what types of savings you can get if you purchase an Energy Star refrigerator (if anyone knows of a way to recycle your old refridgerator, please tell).

Initial cost difference: $30
Savings over the life of the refrigerator: $62
Net savings: $32
Lbs. of CO2 reduced over lifecycle: 1,121

Of course if you want to avoid the $1,100 cost of a fancy new refrigerator, I suppose you could always dig a hole in your back yard as storage, but that sounds like the pits to me.

54 people checked to see if they were using the right oil last week (Tip #5). Now, I’m going to get a little greedy and say that 70% switched to the manufacturer’s recommended oil, which means that 38 people will be saving 2% in gas costs over the next year. This equates to 7828 lbs. of CO2 savings, enough to take one Hybrid off the road for a full year. Wait, umm, on second thought, make that a Expedition removed for 1/2 a year. We like our hybrids.

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