Monday, April 14, 2008

Chill out!

Originally uploaded by Andrew Butts
Just a few thoughts about how I’ve been trying to be more efficient with another one of my appliances: the refrigerator. I kept reading all these things telling me to clean my refrigerator coils. The EPA, among others, recommends this. Oddly, I couldn’t find any reliable stats telling me exactly how much money / energy it would save me to do this, but I figure that in the worst case scenario, my house is a little bit cleaner, so what’s the harm?

There are great instructions at e-how on how to actually clean them. I had no idea what I was doing, but following these instructions, it took me about ten minutes. I even put it on my calendar for six months from now so I’ll be sure to remember to do it again.

I don’t even know why I was surprised, but I did find that there are special gadgets out there specifically designed for cleaning the refrigerator coils. I did just fine with a vacuum cleaner and a damp sponge. I can’t see why I would need a special brush to handle this job. Plus, with my new attempt to focus on how much I’m buying and consuming, it seems a silly purchase when I know I’ll use it no more than twice a year.

The EPA also recommends double checking to make sure that the gasket seals properly – it’s the rubber part around the door that actually seals it shut when you close it. It’s kind of a no-brainer, but if the door’s not shut tight, cool air will leak out and it will have to work harder (ie use more energy).

Obviously opening the door let’s warm air in, so I’m trying to be cognizant of how often I do that (and then do it less when I can!)

Again, it may seem obvious, but if I put food away while it’s still really hot, it takes more energy to cool it down than if I just let it cool at room temperature for a while. The FDA says the maximum time to safely leave food out when it’s over 90 F is one hour, or two hours when it’s cooler.

I also looked up on the FDA website to see what temperature they recommend as safe for food storage. No sense in keeping it colder than needed, right? Apparently I can safely turn the temperature up to 40 degrees (F) in the refrigerator and 0 degrees in my freezer. Done!

As I keep being reminded, these small steps don’t even begin to match those taken by some. A perusal of some of the green blogs out there reveals several who have ditched the refrigerator altogether. Good for them. Clearly, they’ll be saving a lot more energy than I will. What I need to keep reminding myself, however, is that this process is not about making the most drastic, impressive changes possible, but making small changes that I can maintain for a long while to come.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

I agree that small steps help to make permanent change. When we try to change everything all at once we often get frustrated. Slow and steady wins the race.