Modern GE refrigerator with Armoire Styling Image credit:GE.
Today's refrigerators use two-thirds less electricity than models sold in the mid-1970s. Remarkable by itself; but when you consider that refrigerator size has gone up dramatically over that period, and that water filters and computer screens and in-door ice makers have become increasingly common features, it is astounding. And yet, there is a great deal more efficiency to be wrung out of the refrigerator. The US Department of Energy, for example, is proposing a new standard that would decrease energy use of most refrigerator-freezers sold by 20%-25% by 2014. Let's consider how much this matters.I quote from the USDOE press release:
...it [the standard] will save nearly 4.5 quadrillion Btu and would avoid 305 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the following 30 years. By 2043, the standard would also eliminate the need for up to 4.2 gigawatts of new generating capacity, equivalent to eight or nine coal-fired power plants. So. this is serious.
Progress takes time.
As refrigerators have design lives in the range of 15 to 25 years, the benefits will accrue over decades. Because benefits are expressed so slowly, no one Administration, political party, politician or manufacturing company can take full credit. But, it's the right thing to do. Increasing efficiency standards for refrigerators saves consumers big money on their electric bills. It's good for the environment.
These efficiency gains help overcome the feature-creep and gadget proliferation effects that you can read about in detail in the recent post: US Home Energy Efficiency Improved Since 1970, So Why Are The Bills The Same?
There is more to come for other major appliances!
Again from the DOE: "The Alliance to Save Energy, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the Appliance Standards Awareness Project, and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) all hailed the new proposed standards, noting that the standard reflects a consensus reached among appliance manufacturers and energy efficiency, environmental, and consumer advocates. Under an agreement made in July, the organizations are also recommending new standards for clothes washers and dryers, dishwashers, and room air conditioners, which DOE is evaluating for future rulemakings..."
Get this you Tea Kettle steam blowers: society gains because the government collaborates with designers and then takes action when all agree it will be cost effective.