Refrigerator Efficiency Gap?

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Illustration by Fotolia/Onidji
Steady improvements in refrigerator efficiency might earn Japanese manufacturers more market share.

Each year, American refrigerators consume electricity amounting to nearly half of all the current produced by nuclear power plants in 1981 despite the fact that the efficiency of the “typical” (15-cubic foot, frost-free) new model has improved by almost 15% since 1976. Furthermore, in a recent article in Technology Review, scientist David B. Goldstein points out that Japan is now marketing refrigerators that use electricity at a rate less than half that of comparable U.S. domestic models. He suggests American appliance manufacturers may find themselves “in a plight similar to that of the automakers” if consumers become more aware of refrigerator efficiency and the massive amounts of energy — and money — their iceboxes are wasting.