08 Sep 2011

Keep The Milk Cool – Just Pay Less For It

photo credit: Top Ten USA

Recently new refrigerator regulations were announced that will cut the amount of energy refrigerators use to a fifth of that used 40 years ago. Think about it–you’d have to own five refrigerators to equal the power consumption of that refrigerator in your startup home in the early 70s.

I grew up with such a fridge and my family held onto it through several moves over the decades while we scrimped to save cash on heat and other necessities. Through the years it kept the cats warm, but while they dozed by the heat vent we boosted global warming emissions.

The fact is that up until the mid-seventies refrigerators were getting less efficient. This made gains so easy that by 1987 the worst fridge on the market consumed less energy than the best fridge from 1975. And it turns out that the gains kept on coming. Over the ensuing decades, manufacturers kept boosting efficiency, making it possible to own larger fridges that preserve food better at much lower environmental and monetary costs.

So if you are holding on to an older fridge, especially if it’s your second fridge, get rid of it. The last time federal standards for refrigerator energy consumption went into effect was in 2001, meaning that if you own a fridge manufactured in 2000 or earlier and it needs repairs, you’re better off replacing it instead. (And you can even find out just how much energy you’re wasting with the U.S. EPA Energystar.gov Refrigerator Retirement Calculator.)

Be sure to arrange with your city’s sanitation department to have your old refrigerator  recycled and make sure your new fridge U.S. EPA Energy Star-certified. Here’s a list of the most energy-efficient medium-sized refrigerators (all  Energy Star certified) currently on the market compiled by TopTen USA–and for more details see the refrigerator slideshow on NRDC Smarter Living:

1. General Electric Hotpoint (multiple models): will save you $156 to $352 and over 2,600 pounds of CO2 over 12 years (compared to a model that meets the basic federal standards)

2. Frigidaire, Crosley (multiple models): savings of $86 to $194 and 1,450 pounds of CO2 over 12 years

3. Maytag W5TXEWFW: savings of $85 to $192 and 1,430 pounds of CO2 over 12 years

4. General Electric GTH16BBX: savings of $87 to $197 and 1,460 pounds of CO2 over 12 years

5. Frigidaire, Crosley (multiple models): savings of $89 to $201 and 1,500 pounds of CO2 over 12 years

6. Kenmore, Maytag, Whirlpool (multiple models): savings of $91 to $205 and 1,530 pounds of CO2 over 12 years

7. General Electric GTH18KBX: savings of $92 to $207 and 1,540 pounds of CO2 over 12 years