This article was originally published in the January/February 1994 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.
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Home Energy Magazine Online January/February 1994
The Golden Carrot Causes Indigestion
Net fewer kilowatt-hours marks successful electrical conservation, but efficiency is only part of the electric bottom line. For example, the average refrigerator in Zurich uses 500 kWh per year. It's a smaller refrigerator, so Swiss homeowners get to support their neighborhood stores more often to purchase fresh and frozen foods. Hey, but that's Switzerland and this is America.
I graphed data from the table on page 21 of the January/February '93 issue of Home Energy to show that the kWh used per refrigerator increases with the size of the appliance, while kWh per cubic foot decreases with additional size. Efficiency (kWh per cubic foot) justifies larger appliances but it seldom challenges our lifestyle. Following that logic, Whirlpool deserves cheers for winning $30 million in rebates to distribute the environmental refrigeration wonder of the decade.
Whirlpool says its carrot will use 25% to 50% less energy than the 1993 federal standard allows, but a single-door manual-defrost unit uses 30% less than a side-by-side automatic defrost, according to the table in Home Energy. Such a modest appliance would cost less too, but Whirlpool's first model will be a side-by-side with 22.5 ft3 capacity, the type of refrigerator on your list that uses the most electricity. Whirlpool even includes an energy-saving ice maker, crisper, and snack bin. This offering must be aimed at the low-income market. After all, these units are going to cost between $1,000 and $1,400, market-researched and competitively priced to sell a quarter million, of course.
Following this logic, I suggest that we next go for the $100 million Platinum Potato award. Let's increase the capacity to a more efficient 40 ft3, with three vertical doors, energy-efficient heated and chilled water dispensers, and a color-coordinated mother earth decal emblazoned on the front. That'll garner even more market share, and our grandchildren will be proud of our efficiency prowess.
Melrose Park, Pennsylvania
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