Two climate change-fighting volunteers from Green@Home came by for a housecall today. I learned, among other things, that my refrigerator is too empty.
Why is this a problem? Because –here comes my simplified explanation–an empty(ish) fridge has little to “hold” the cold when the door is open and closed. Which means that all that warm air that comes in and gets trapped in the closed fridge has to be cooled. Whereas a cold gallon of water or milk (or some veggies or sticks of butter or a chicken leg…) will stay cold or cooler than air that can move in and out easily, and not have to be cooled down. And this saves energy. (A better explanation here.)
I knew this about my refrigerator, but the beauty of the housecall is that someone else tells me and encourages me to do something about it.
So I did.
- I put the three bottles of white wine that were on the kitchen counter, into the fridge.
- I bought two one-gallon bottles of water. I don’t usually buy or drink bottled water–I stick to filtered or tap water–so I had a bit of hesitation, but it’s a no-brainer. The extra “mass” of the water will help save energy, and it doubles as the water supply that I should have as part of my earthquake emergency kit.
Some other things that the Green@Home volunteers did to help with the refrigerator were:
- Measure the fridge and freezer temperature. This is for both energy-saving and food safety. We had to adjust both to be cooler since the temps were a little high. Ideal: 35-38 F for refrigerator. 0 F for freezer.
- Check to see the seals are tight by taking a piece of paper along the sides and make sure it can’t be pulled out easily.
- Suggested that I vacuum the refrigerator coils. I did this. I might have to go back and do a better job…
If I weren’t renting the house, I might consider getting a newer Energy Star-rated refrigerator, and one that’s smaller, since we tend not to stock lots of food in our two-person household. But I do rent and since my behavior probably has the biggest impact long-term, I’ll take the advice of this guy regarding the “hmm, what do I want? let me look around the fridge with the door wide open” tendency:
Finally, and I think this applies as much to geopolitical excursions as it does to refrigerators, decide what you want beforehand, then get in and out fast.