The (Hidden) Energy Costs in Energy-Efficient Fridges The (Hidden) Energy Costs in Energy-Efficient Fridges

The (Hidden) Energy Costs in Energy-Efficient Fridges

by Peter Smith

January 15, 2011

This line of thinking presumably extends to cars, computers, and electronic devises. At the time, The New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert enthusiastically responded, saying his speech heralded a shift in policy, a clear message from the country's future energy chief.

But now, David Owen, author of Green Metropolis, has questioned the escalation of the cooling capacity across suburban America in lengthy piece in The New Yorker. Owen says more efficient technologies don't always cut energy consumption or carbon output. That's especially true when it comes to the refrigerator:

The steadily declining cost of refrigeration has made eating much more interesting. It has also made almost all elements of food production more cost-effective and energy-efficient: milk lasts longer if you don’t have to keep it in a pail in your well. But there are environmental downsides, beyond the obvious one that most of the electricity that powers the world’s refrigerators is generated by burning fossil fuels. (Non-subscribers can read the full-text, via Richard Wilson.)


Top drawing via C. Linde, 1895. Apparatus for Producing Low Temperatures, Liquefying Gases, and the Separation of the Constituents Gaseous Mixtures. US Patent 728173.

Bottom drawing via Bechtold, Reuben E. and Mellowes, Alfred W. Cooling Apparatus. US Patent 1276612.

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The (Hidden) Energy Costs in Energy-Efficient Fridges