Rethinking Refrigeration: The Benefits of a Smaller Fridge


Small Fridge 1

Downsizing is on trend. While we may not all be rushing to join the “tiny house movement,” there is a growing consciousness among today’s consumers to make the most of our resources, waste less, and eliminate clutter—it’s good for the Earth and for simplifying our lives. When downsizing your home or merely trying to cut back, one significant way to increase this impact is to get a smaller refrigerator.

If you’re a family of four or more — or you have teenagers in the house — a big French door refrigerator can be a lifesaver. But there’s room to simplify in even the most bustling households. And for smaller families, empty nesters, singletons, and retirees, opting for a smaller fridge can almost go unnoticed. These “alternative” fridges use less energy, take up less space, and encourage you to waste less food. They’re also a much better fit for small kitchens and can help you add counter space.

Here are the reasons to consider an alternative to a big refrigerator.

Take Up Less Space

Whether you’re downsizing to a condo after raising a family, living in a small apartment in the city, or just trying to make more room in your kitchen, maximizing space can be a challenge. A fridge that is smaller than its full-sized counterpart can allow you to find extra room in your kitchen for seating, cabinetry, and other appliances.

Use Less Energy

Not only are smaller refrigerators less expensive, but they’re also less expensive to run. Appliances are responsible for 13 percent of a household’s energy use, and after the heating and cooling system, the refrigerator is one of the biggest home-energy hogs. Refrigerators take up a lot of valuable space and energy in a kitchen, but they’re often working harder than they have to, cooling food that you don’t ever need or use.

7/13/2018 6:10:53 PM

Being portable its great for those who can. So is using smaller units. But many cannot live like that. For us, frequent shopping just fails to fit the budget [added fuel/time/energy]. After a 12-hr outage, we bought a battery box [there are numerous brands on the market now..we got a GZ-Li1400 via roadshow, and some modest solar panels to go with it. Spendy, & it requires extension cables [extra], & solar panels [extra], but, it’s already been very helpful to keep certain things going during outages. Now, that company has made a Li3000 watt box....which ultimately might be better to power the kitchen. Next, a store had a ‘last model in stock’ sale of a 7.2cf chest freezer @ $100. It now runs as a fridge, using an external thermostat from Amz.n, AND, it’s about 3cf smaller than the old upright fridge was...yet, almost everything fit inside?! IDK how it did that, but...yay! A folding bin box exactly fits in bottom, to help organization. It had 2 top baskets. Didn’t think we’d need a middle basket, but ended up getting a misc. basket that just sits on top of the bin below, on sale, that works well. Then got a 14.8 cf. to use as freezer, AND..plugged it into a heavy duty appliance timer to shut off nightly, for 3 to 5 hours...which prevents ice-buildup, yet keeps everything very hard-frozen. [2] of those same folding bin boxes exactly fit into the bottom. A 3rd bin box can sit in the top middle, for housemates to share the bigger freezer & keep stuff separate. They still run a modest regular fridge, but its freezer is sometimes kinda small. This arrangement immediately dropped the household power use, about 2/3 below the average 25cf fridge's use [which commonly use around 700 watts when on]. This cut about $15 to $20 per month off the power bill, give or take a bit. We call that meaningful! Not long later, 2 circuits blew, & electrician couldn’t get here for 2.5 days. I was easily able to plug the chests into our battery box, via a multi-plug to one of the AC outlets on the box. The meter on the box showed those boxes, when both running, use approx. 200 watts. There can be a slit-second power draw spike, but it’s extremely brief. then settles back to “run-power”. They cycled at different times, tho occasionally at same time. After several hours, found extension cord so box could recharge from house current from a working circuit, while in use to power the chests. House power only recharges this box at rate of about 55 watts, so it couldn’t keep up entirely, but did allow running the chests that long, & had about 1/4 charge still available once grid power was restored. That seems very impressive! The regular fridge would never have been able to run longer than a few hours off that battery box. Solar will recharge the box faster, esp. if you plug enough panels into both available inputs for recharging from DC sources. This means, I should be able to take those chests both, off-grid entirely, and, maybe even have some juice available to run a few other small items in the kitchen, if we use about 200+ watts of solar to recharge it during days...even in the Pacific NW, with all our usual cloudage [because we’ve already established that this works nicely]. That’s a chunk out of the electric bill, which I suspect, will probably cost less to replace, than buying grid power equivalent [keep in mind, smart meters allow utilities to increase/decrease how much is billed from your pocket, similar to how tax departments determine how much taxes you pay each year for your property, by adjusting the “Mil-rates”...same thing now, for utility companies...profiteering at it’s under-handed best]. Yes, battery must be replaced periodically, as it’s only able to go about 500 deep-recharges [like when the whole charge gets used up, & recharge must replenish entire capacity]. But, keeping it “topped off” daily, helps the battery live longer. Charging via solar or wind, daily, helps do that..and those will eventually need replaced. In the interim, we save up for replacement costs, & to get more little systems. If this experiment works, we might just save up to get a few separate boxes, and more panels, to take other rooms “off-grid”. It’s one way those on smaller budgets can achieve using solar to live by.

7/13/2018 1:57:05 PM

Going smaller means more gas, wear and tear, and time. No thanks.

7/13/2018 1:57:04 PM

Problem with going smaller is it means I would have to drive to a store to restock more often that means more gas, wear and tear, and time

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