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Trashing the fridge

How radical are you?  How committed to a small carbon footprint?  Are you radical enough and committed enough to pull the plug on your refrigerator? Some people are, although it is still considered a fringe choice — 99.5% of American homes have a refrigerator.  The people who’ve done it say it’s relatively easy to make the lifestyle change.  They’re generally happy with their decision.  But there are some costs involved.  One has to buy more food (because of spoilage) in smaller quantities (thus more packaging).  One has to cook more, which needs more time and forethought because items from the freezer must be thawed, and leftovers avoided.  It helps to live alone or as a couple, and don’t have to cook large meals for a family.  It also helps to live on a farm or within walking distance of a grocery store.  Yet the gains from unplugging the fridge are surprisingly small.  An 18-cubic-foot Energy Star-rated refrigerator uses about 380 kilowatt-hours a year, less than a clothes dryer, at a cost of $40 per year, or 11 cents a day.  Switching to a minifridge saves only about $6 a year. 
 
If you’re not willing to give up your refrigerator, clean the door gaskets and compressor coils once a year; every three months if you have a pet.  Refrigerators with the freezer on top are more efficient than side-by-side models.  Buy an Energy Star-rated unit for the same reason.  Open the door as little as possible, and don’t position the fridge in direct sunlight or next to the oven. 
 
If you were poor and lived overseas, you wouldn’t have any choices to make.  You’d have no fridge to unplug, no freezer or ice as workarounds, and never any leftovers.

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