Efficiency Matters

With 10 minutes, we could afford to replace several power plants with pristine scenery.

nuclear-comparison1 Efficiency Matters

We would still have exactly as much energy at our disposal.

The change would cost nothing; in fact, it would save each person about $50 a year.


Refrigerators are energy intensive. Old refrigerators can use over 2,000 kwh per year. Even modern, “efficient” refrigerators can use up to 600 kilowatt hours per year. That is the amount of energy it takes to light up ten thousand incandescent light bulbs for an hour.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cleaning your refrigerator coils just once every 6 to 12 months will increase the efficiency by up to 30%. It’s as easy as 10 minutes of dusting.

That is significant. My parents’ fridge, a 1986 Whirpool, clocks in at 1,508 kwh per year. At 10.5 cents/kwh, cleaning the coils offers a savings of $47.40.

For 10 minutes of work, that is $284.40 an hour! Most productive 10 minutes you’ll spend all day.

Decrease Fossil Fuel Consumption

On March 28th of this year, hundreds of millions of people turned off their lights to celebrate Earth Hour. earth-hour-300x199 Efficiency MattersCities around the world saw a dip in power consumption by anywhere from 2 to 15 percent during that hour.

But how effective could this be if Earth Hour was replaced by “Fridge Minutes”? Let’s estimate that the average household has 10 incandescent light bulbs running at night. Earth Hour then saves:

10 bulbs x 60 watts/bulb x 1 hour = 0.60 kilowatt-hours each year.

Conservatively estimating the average fridge uses 1,000 kwh per year, cleaning the condenser coils saves:

30% * 1,000 kwh =  300 kilowatt-hours each year.


If you spend 10 minutes once a year to clean your refrigerator coils, that saves more energy than if you would sit in the dark for one hour, every day of the year.

Power of Combined Effort

A nuclear power plant produces about 1,000 MW of power, producing nearly 9 billion kilowatt-hours over a year. If we assume that the U.S. contains 1 refrigerator for every 4 people, and the average fridge uses 1,000 kwh per year, a little fridge maintenance could replace two or three of such nuclear power plants.

Try it yourself; look up your fridge model number with the Energy Star Calculator, and see how much you could save.

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