Intimate dinner of crow chez O’Hare

We have an extra refrigerator in the basement, useful for its freezer and holding extra stuff for parties, leftovers after parties, and the like.  It was more useful when we had a family of four, and my wife has wondered if we wouldn’t save some electricity if we got rid of it.

I pooh-poohed this for a few months, because it is rarely opened, the basement is always fairly cool, refrigerators got much more efficient after the seventies, yada yada, but my wife has good instincts about this stuff, so I finally went into engineer mode instead of know-it-all-tech-hip-male mode and did a little actual research.  I was pretty sure any savings would not be worth the inconvenience, but we pay a lot at the margin for power in California, and Debbie at least deserved a serious response.

Oops. This page lists a LOT of old refrigerators’ energy consumption, an indicator also available for new units and in any case easily convertible to money.  When the spreadsheet cleared, after a little searching for energy star fridges, we found a unit at Sears only 10% smaller in size (plenty big) whose average annual energy use was fully 800 kwh less than the one we had.  With rebates from the power company for replacing appliances, it will cost about $300 including moving it in and taking the old one away, which means it will pay for itself in a little more than a year.  It will what??!!  Yes, in 13 months: a 90% CD, warm fuzzy green feelings, and one more lesson in humility and respect for data (I don’t need any more lessons in respect for my wife’s judgment, just practice in implementation) for yr. obdt. svt.

YMMV, ours too: maybe all that not opening the door and stuff means we will only save half what I calculated. But I don’t know of any 45% CDs, do you?  If you have a refrigerator from the 90s, you might want to check out your options.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

3 thoughts on “Intimate dinner of crow chez O’Hare”

  1. On the subject of data, there are inexpensive electricity meters on the market these days that will tell you how much electricity your appliance is actually using. I just picked up a Stanley model for under $19 at Costco. We're going to find out about our basement refrigerator, among other things, and then donate the meter to our local tool library.

  2. If you have two refrigerators and one is not stocked entirely with beer, wine and mixers, you are doing it wrong.

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