A lot more people have a second refrigerator these days, at a big cost to owners' wallets and the environment.
If your house is like 1 in 4 U.S. homes, it has a second refrigerator, often called the beer fridge, often in the basement or garage. It’s handy when you need to store extra food and beverages for a party or the holidays, but that second fridge is not so great on your wallet or the environment, writes Chris Mooney of The Washington Post.
Mooney calls the growing number of households with a second refrigerator a “major national energy blight.” Why? Because most spare fridges are old, energy-guzzling models. The improvement in the energy efficiency of refrigerators has been dramatic in recent years.
“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 when compared with today’s models,” Mooney writes.
The second-fridge phenomenon really took off between 1997 and 2009, and apparently is still growing, Mooney says. Larger houses are typically home to a second fridge, which makes sense if you consider the space an extra appliance requires.
In addition to spare fridges being older and, thus, less energy-efficient than their newer counterparts, they are often relegated to spaces that aren’t as climate-controlled as a kitchen. So second refrigerators often have to work harder to stay cool (at least in the summer).
“Refrigerators and freezers keep things cold better when they’re packed full, and rarely opening that second fridge doesn’t balance out the amount of electricity that it uses when there’s only a box of wine inside,” Consumerist said.
How much money are you wasting? Steven Nadel, executive director of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, told Mooney that older fridges (15 to 25 years old) can use 750 to 1,000 kilowatt-hours a year, at an average cost of $97 to $130. Of course, it could be higher depending on your local utility rates.
That’s a lot of money to keep some extra drinks cold, or hold a veggie tray for a party.
“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,” Mooney writes.
Of course, if you’re determined to keep your second fridge, you may want to think about unplugging it when you don’t have any use for it, instead of letting it drain energy and your wallet.
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