The refrigerator sitting in your kitchen (or garage) today likely requires on the order of 600 W (watts) of dedicated power to keep your milk fresh and ice cream frozen. This dedicated power (your refrigerator is usually on all the time) is responsible for a significant portion of your monthly electric bill (13.7% in the average U.S. household).
According to an e-mail sent yesterday by Brewster McCracken, Executive Director of the Pecan Street Project, new “smart” refrigerators need only 10% (60 W) of the power required for a standard refrigerator. This savings is in part due to sophisticated technologies – but a large part of the savings is due to more simple solutions like better insulation and cooler lights.
The new smart refrigerator exemplifies the opportunities that exist NOW to save energy in our homes and offices. Improved insulation, solar screens, or even creating a shady spot for your air conditioner to sit in can result in significant energy savings for low costs. In fact, energy efficiency projects are quoted at a cost of $350 per unit of capacity (kW) avoided, while new power plants cost at least $900 per unit of capacity (kW) installed.
Sometimes the best (cheapest, easiest) solution is the low-tech solution.