The most effective way to reduce CO2 emission

Hint: Your fridge might be a problem, but it’s also a massive opportunity

What’s the most effective way to reduce carbon dioxid emission? It’s changing the way we store our food. According to project Drawdown refrigerant management is the #1 way to make an impact.
Refrigerant management

Every refrigerator (and air conditioner) contains chemicals that absorb and release heat to enable cooling. They are called refrigerants. Thanks to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, the most ozone layer destroying refrigerants, CFCs and HCFCs have been phased out. They were replaced with the so called HFCs, which spare the ozone layer, but have 1,000 to 9,000 times greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

In October 2016, officials from more than 170 countries met in Kigali, Rwanda, to negotiate a deal which says that by 2028 no more HFCs will be used anywhere in the world. The first part of this deal, addressing high-income countries phasing out HFCs, starts this year.

While this is a great achievement to be stoked about, keep in mind that 90 percent of refrigerant emissions happen at the end of a refrigerator’s life. This is why effective disposal is essential. After being carefully removed and stored, refrigerants can be purified for reuse or transformed into other chemicals that do not cause warming.

Energy Star is an international symbol of energy efficiency. Energy Star refrigerators have high efficiency compressors, improved insulation and defrosting features that help improve the energy efficiency.

What can YOU do?

Refrigerators are one of the very few appliances, which run 365 days a year.

  • Keep the refrigerator away from heat sources such as dishwashers, oven and even direct sunlight from a window
  • Don’t stand there with the refrigerator wide open. Older refrigerators often have an energy saving switch. Keep the switch in the ‘on’- position. The switch being in the ‘off’ position turns on a heater, which warms the doors to prevent moisture condensing on the outside of the fridge.
  • Look into getting a new one that’s HFCs free, if you own a refrigerator, which still uses HFCs. Chances are that you can also safe a lot of energy (and money) with a newer Energy Star model. Here are a few more things to consider when buying a new fridge:
    • Use ice cube trays, instead of buying a fridge with an automatic ice maker (can use up to 20% more electricity than the same model without)
    • It is extremely important to pick the right size & type refrigerator. Small to medium size standard models use the least energy. Furthermore, top freezer refrigerator models are the most energy efficient type of refrigerator; bottom freezer models are next best.
  • When it’s time to recycle your old refrigerator, educate yourself. Every country, county or city has its own recycling system and it might cost you a few bugs, but this ensures the harmful refrigerants are recycled properly.
  • Maintenance of your refrigerator is key! Keeping an eye on door seals, coils and temperature makes a big difference in conserving energy and lengthening the lifetime of your fridge:
    • Vacuuming the coils once every 3-4 months is recommended for energy efficiency. (Please ensure you unplug your fridge when cleaning.)
    • Get in the habit of checking the door seals. Faulty seals on the freezer can lead to unwanted frosty buildup. Clean the seals with warm soapy water to stop any debris or food spills from from blocking the seal. If the seal is cracked or broken, it’s time to buy a new seal.Test with a bill- if the bill can be easily removed while the door is closed than its time to replace the seal.
    • Monitor the temperature of the fridge and freezer. The ideal temperature is between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius (32-40 degree Fahrenheit) for the fridge and minus 18 degrees Celsius (~ 0 degree Fahrenheit) for the freezer.
    • Defrost the freezer regularly. Anymore than 6mm (a quarter of an inch) of build up in the freezer and it should be defrosted!
    • Provide adequate spacing around the refrigerator. At least 6 inches (15 centimeters) is recommended, particularly at the rear where the coils are located.
woman opening fridge