It’s not OK to have a second refrigerator
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.