ASK NOT FOR WHOM THE REFRIGERATOR HUMS –
IT HUMS FOR THEE
If your fridge has ever been on the fritz – then you know what a truly handy appliance it is, and how messy life is without it. My grandmother used to tell me how just about everyone in her little town and the nearby villages too would all gather at a camping ground to hear lecture sunder a big tent for a few days in the summer. Her mother would take along live chickens to keep them fresh till it was time for that day’s dinner. Other foods were kept cool in the spring. Everyone put their food in a sack with a string and their name on it.
My grandmother’s big brother worked at the ice house, delivering the big, frozen cubes cut from the winter pond for people’s ice boxes. When he dropped dead in his early 20s, the medical consensus was all that going back and forth from the ice house to the summer heat had given him a brain storm.
Both medicine and refrigeration have come a long way since my grandma was a girl.
The convenience of a modern fridge is phenomenal, but we pay a price for it.
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, that fridge is a big energy hog. It’s running 24/7 and can be sucking down 15% of all the energy you use in your whole house. Just think of those millions of fridges humming away.
Of course, one way to cool more greenly is to get new, high-efficiency equipment, but if we can’t afford that, we can still keep our food cool while minimizing that energy cost with a few simple changes.
Every one of these is actually pretty easy, and they add up.
How cold is it in there? If you don’t know, get a thermometer in there and keep the temperature between 36 and 38 F. (That’s 0F for the freezer.) If you go warmer than that, you are going to start getting spoilage – and that’s not efficient. If you go colder than that, you are spending money and burning energy for nothing. Every degree below 38 consumes 5% more energy. Don’t trust the thermometer that is built into the unit. Get your own.
That is easier if you also keep it someone organized, so that you can open it, get what you need and get out again quickly.
There is an easy way to do all three with a commercially prepared refrigerator kit that makes these three easy. It includes a temperature gauge, and a door alarm that beeps if the door is open for more than a minute, along with a cleaning brush for the coils. They claim these three items can save you $35 a year. You can probably find all three items on your own for less.
The Union of concerned Scientists estimates this convenience increases energy consumption 15 to 20 percent. And the tubes that water passes through in the fridge are not cleanable. They can get grungy.
2/3 is a good fullness. That much food provides a steady thermal mass that keeps the temperature from rising too rapidly while you are holding the door open. But more than that starts to cut down circulation.
I try to go through the fridge on Wednesday night before garbage day on Thursday. On a good week, I don’t find anything that has crossed over to that big compost bin in the sky.
I hate to throw out food, but it happens to the best of us.
If you don’t have enough food in your fridge, add some water containers. They will help hold the temperature.
Don’t put hot left overs directly into the fridge. Let them come to room temperature before putting them away, and the motor won’t have to work so hard.
Extra moisture in the air makes the motor work harder, so cover up the things you put in there.
So, have you got any ideas to add to this list? What works for you?
Categories: SUSTAINABLE FOOD