I was thinking the other day about appliance life and remembered a refrigerator that my parents used to have.
When I was very young my family moved into a house that my parents had just built. It had most of the amenities that most people had – indoor bathrooms, stove, fridge, etc. Many years later mom & dad bought a new fridge and moved the old one into the laundry room in the basement where it had a fairly constant temperature.
About ten years ago my father passed on and mother lived in the house for a few years until she remarried and moved to North Carolina. A few years after that she sold the house. That old fridge was still going strong after 40 years.
My fathers parents had an old fridge (built in the 1940’s) in their basement and it was still working 50 years later!
This got me to thinking about house design and doing it smartly.
Houses today, and retro-fits of old ones are piling more heat generating devices into the kitchen – larger fridges, 6 to 8 burner stoves, dual ovens, massive lighting systems and so forth.
The way a fridge, and freezer, work is to remove heat from the inside to the outside. Using the laws of thermodynamics we can see that it is harder for the fridge to move lower temperature energy into a space with higher temperature energy. The fridge will run more using more energy. Place that fridge into a space at or close to the inside temperature and it will have to work less to maintain the internal temperature.
The same principle applies to the insulation but in the reverse way. When it is warm outside the fridge, the warm energy will want to transfer to the inside of the unit. The higher the temperature the more that heat will want to get inside. The lower the outside temperature the less the outside temp will want to get inside.
These two things greatly affect how much energy the fridge will use.
To do it smartly, you should have a well insulated pantry where you store dry goods and canned goods (cooler temps will help them last longer as well) on the north side of the house (or south side if you are in the Southern Hemisphere). You should place your fridge and freezer into this pantry to reduce the electrical load and save you money – whether you are off the grid or not. Or if possible have a root cellar with a section just for the fridge and freezer.