Some discouraging news on the energy-efficient home appliance front via The New York Times Green Inc. Blog: while sales of energy-efficient refrigerators are strong, two recent studies show that there’s a trend to not retire older, inefficient models that the new, efficient models are replacing. Instead of being properly recycled, many old fridges are staying on the grid and being used as secondary fridges.
This, of course, defeats the purpose of buying an energy-efficient fridge in the first place since homeowners are now simultaneously operating two refrigerators, one efficient and one not, and, in turn, driving up monthly energy bills. Ack. The secondary fridge thing does make sense if you had two fridges to begin with. For example, if you swap out a medium-efficiency model fridge in your kitchen with a new, high-efficiency one and then replace the secondary, relic of a fridge in the garage with the slightly more efficient one from the kitchen. But if you only had one refrigerator in the first place … not so much.
One of the aforementioned refrigerator studies was conducted by the Department of Energy and uses data collected from homeowners in California and Vermont. According to the findings, 26 percent of homes have an auxiliary fridge — or a “beer and deer fridge” as they're known in parts of the county where hunting is popular — and that number is growing at 1 percent annually. Furthermore, 10 percent of households that purchase a new primary fridge each year decide to keep the old one in operation for one reason or another. If homeowners make the decision not to use a secondary fridge, about $2.8 billion in energy costs would be saved annually.
The growth in refrigerator size, number of refrigerators in use and prevalence of second refrigerators is swamping much of the gains we’ve achieved by improving efficiency.