It’s not OK to have a sec­ond re­frig­er­a­tor

The Progress-Index - At Home - - NEWS - Chart shows the en­ergy con­sump­tion of re­frig­er­a­tors based on the year they were built. By Chris Mooney

Maybe this scene sounds fa­mil­iar: It’s Thanks­giv­ing, you’re sit­ting and watch­ing the foot­ball game, and you want a beer. So what do you do? If you’re like many Americans, you won’t go over to the kitchen fridge, which is now crammed with leftovers. Rather, you’ll trek down to the base­ment or out to the garage to the sec­ond re­frig­er­a­tor.

Sure, it’s con­ve­nient. But the grow­ing trend of hav­ing sec­ond re­frig­er­a­tors is a ma­jor na­tional en­ergy blight — not only wast­ing a lot of en­ergy, but po­ten­tially cost­ing you hun­dreds of dol­lars.

Sec­ond re­frig­er­a­tors are bad news. The sim­ple rea­son? They tend to be an­cient. In fact, nearly 15 per­cent of U.S. homes have a sec­ond re­frig­er­a­tor that is at least 20 years old, which means it is vir­tu­ally cer­tain to be an en­ergy hog.

By keep­ing an old re­frig­er­a­tor as a sec­ond re­frig­er­a­tor, you nul­lify any en­ergy ad­vance that was gained when you went out and bought a newer fridge.

For each house­hold that buys a new En­ergy Star fridge, but then shifts its old re­frig­er­a­tor to the base­ment, that’s one more house­hold whose en­ergy foot­print just in­creased.

Based on data from the Depart­ment of En­ergy’s 2009 Res­i­den­tial En­ergy Con­sump­tion Survey, it seems to be only rel­a­tively re­cently that U.S. house­holds have seen an up­swing in sec­ond re­frig­er­a­tors. From 1978 to 1997, their preva­lence in house­holds only in­creased by 1 per­cent, from 14 to 15 per­cent. But from 1997 to 2009, they fur­ther in­creased to 23 per­cent.

So what’s the al­ter­na­tive? Re­frig­er­a­tor re­cy­cling is sup­ported by the En­ergy Star pro­gram as well as util­i­ties across the coun­try, some of which of­fer cash or a bill credit in ex­change for turn­ing in an old fridge. Ac­cord­ing to En­ergy Star, re­cy­cling an older or sec­ond re­frig­er­a­tor prop­erly can lead to sav­ings of $300 to $700 over a five year pe­riod, and avoid up to 20,000 pounds of green­house gas emis­sions.

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