The green credentials of the common refrigerator

Thanks to industry innovation and a supportive regulatory climate, by 2014, a new refrigerator will use just one-fifth the power a fridge needed in the mid-1970s.

Another set of refrigerator energy-efficiency standards, set to take effect in 2014, will shave another 25 percent off typical power consumption.

That is according to an analysis being cited by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). What’s even more impressive, mind you, is the fact that there already has been an impressive string of energy-efficiency improvements over the past three decades. A new refrigerator in 2014 will use about one-fifth the electricity as one that came out in the mid-1970s. At the same time, the typical capacity has increased by about 20 percent, according to data published by the Appliance Standards Awareness Project.

Noted David Goldstein, energy program co-director at the NRDC:

“These new standards are the coolest yet, because they show that innovation can keep driving improvements even after decades of progress. New fridges do an even better job of keeping our food fresh and providing consumer amenity, yet they use only one-fifth the electricity they used to – and that means less pollution from power plants.”

The new 2014 standards will translate into an electricity savings of $215 to $270 per year, according to the Appliance Standards Awareness Project. Over a period of the next 30 years, that sort of savings would be enough energy to handle the electricity needs of one-fifth of all U.S. households, according to the DOE. The potential savings in carbon dioxide emissions would be 344 million metric tons over 30 years, or the equivalent emissions of 67 million cars.

President Ronald Reagan signed the original federal refrigerator energy-efficiency laws into law in 1986.