Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

5 Tips to Turn Your Icebox into a Low-Carbon Super-Fridge

I don’t need to tell you why climate change is very, very bad. You’ve heard the litany dozens of times (melting ice caps, rising sea levels, more unpredictable and stronger storms, water shortages). But what can you do?

First, it’s important that our government adopt a saner climate change policy. Fortunately, early indications are that this will happen, with a new president willing to set climate policy according to the scientific data rather than political ideology. Ideally, the government will create some sort of cap-and-dividend system, similar to what has been proposed and advocated by Peter Barnes (Capitalism 3.0, Climate Solutions: A Citizen’s Guide).

Well, that’s all well and good, but what can you do, you—an individual, not a government—in your daily life to cut carbon and make the world a little bit safer?

Plenty. Private homes, added together, are a huge contributor to CO2 in the atmosphere, and the little steps you take to cut your emissions can have a big impact. Let’s start with the fridge.

The following is an excerpt from Climate Change: Simple Things You Can Do to Make a Difference by Jon Clift and Amanda Cuthbert. It has been adapted for the Web.

What do your refrigerator and freezer have to do with climate change?

Electricity used for refrigeration and air conditioning units comes from power plants, most of which burn coal, gas, or oil to produce it, emitting large quantities of CO2 in the process.

Less electricity used for refrigeration = less CO2

Refrigerators and freezers are never turned off—although they may not appear to use much energy, in an average home they can be responsible for up to 1/3 of the total electricity bill.

What can you do about it?

  1. Wait until hot food has cooled down before putting it into the refrigerator.
  2. Keep refrigerators and freezers well away from heat sources such as stoves, dishwashers, and washing machines. If possible, put refrigerators and freezers out of direct sunlight, as your appliance will use more energy trying to keep cool in the sun.
  3. Try to keep your refrigerator and freezer full; they will use less electricity. Keep bottles filled with tap water on hand to take up the empty spaces; fill any empty spaces in your freezer with scrunched-up paper or bubble wrap to stop warm air circulating when it is opened.
  4. Defrost food by putting it in the refrigerator the night before you want to use it. This will cool the refrigerator down and reduce its power consumption.
  5. Keep the metal grids (condenser coils) at the back of refrigerators and freezers clean and dustfree, and not jammed up against the wall; this allows the air to circulate more easily around them, and makes them more efficient. If you have a fitted kitchen with a built-in refrigerator or freezer, make sure there is ample ventilation to allow for air circulation around the condenser coils.


3 Ways Spraying More Herbicides on Public Land is Bad

The following is a guest post by Tao Orion, author of Beyond the War on Invasive Species. It is an open letter to the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding its proposal to add three new herbicides for invasive species management on western public lands. Find out below, how you can voice your concerns […] Read More..

Arid Agriculture: How to Reduce Heat Stress in Crops and Livestock

Regardless of where you stand on the climate change issue, there’s one reality few can deny. During the summer, many places in North America are now regularly suffering temperatures above 100˚F, whereas they rarely did in the past. It’s also widely known that such high temperatures put heat stress on crops that are not very […] Read More..

When it Comes to Invasive Species, Just Say NO to Eradication

What if we looked beyond the notion of invasive species as enemies, and instead harnessed them for beneficial uses? Beyond the War on Invasive Species offers just such a bold alternative to the chemical and intensive eradication efforts, one that is holistic and inspired by permaculture principles. First-time author Tao Orion makes a compelling case […] Read More..

The Limits to Growth and Greece: Systemic or Financial Collapse?

Could it be that the ongoing Greek collapse is a symptom of the more general collapse that the Limits to Growth model generates for the first two decades of the 21st century? Author Ugo Bardi (Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth is Plundering the Planet) examines the correlation between what is unfolding between Greece […] Read More..

Wild Edibles: 5 Tips for Beginner Foragers

Ever spotted a dandelion growing in your backyard and wondered, can I eat that? According to wild plants expert Katrina Blair, the answer is a resounding yes. And there are plenty of other commonly found weeds that fall into this category as well. In her book The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, Blair introduces readers to […] Read More..