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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Fridge Stupid


If, like most people living some distance of the Equator, you experience a few cold months during the year, you probably spend a significant amount of dollars on your heating bill. 

And inside the house or apartment you pay to heat, you also happen to spend money on electricity to refrigerate a cold box called a fridge.

Pretty insane with all that free cold available outside your walls, isn't it.

You see, this is a classic example of a bad habit we've inherited and are repeating on auto pilot. It just doesn't make any sense, but we do it because everybody else does it and we don't see any alternative around. But there are alternatives. Change is slow because there's still money to be made by selling appliances designed to break in a few years. Ever wondered why an old fridge from the 1960's is still working mighty fine when the new one you bought 5 years ago is already dead? But that's another topic.

Let's get back to alternatives.

Imagine a wall mounted fridge that would be a permanent fixture in the house, like, let's say, a heat pump. Since the majority of refrigerators break during transport, this would solve a problem right there. Also, the compressor could be located in the basement of the house, eliminating the unnerving humming present in every modern kitchen. Instead of a few big doors, the fridge would present an array or compartment (vegetables, drinks, meat, etc.) each with its own temperature and individual door to minimizing the cold/heat transfer between the fridge and the house each time a compartment is opened. Finally, during winter months, the cold could come from the outside, simply pushed by a fan. The remainder of the year, the compressor would do the job. Total amount of energy saved: around 80%.

Actually, this "smart fridge" has already been designed by a student of Sylvain Plouffe, professor of Ecodesign at the University of Montreal. I read about it in Jean-Sébastien Trudel's excellent book: Arrêtons de pisser dans de l'eau embouteillée (page 151).

However, I haven't seen any available in stores so far.

Someone knows a top level executive at Frigidaire, GE, Maytag, LG, Whirpool, Kitchenaid, Electrolux, Viking or Miele ?

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