Reconsider Keeping A Second Refrigerator In Your Garage

There are times––say, a major food-oriented holiday––that it comes in handy to have a spare refrigerator to store a case of soda, a thawing turkey, or a half-dozen boxes of wine. Usually, though, that second fridge sits empty, not doing much. Do you know what it’s mostly doing? Wasting energy, and your money.

The second-fridge phenomenon might be unfamiliar to you, but in a Washington Post article denouncing the practice, we learned that in the Midwest, up to 30% of families keep a spare fridge. They tend to correlate with larger homes, which makes sense: plenty of extra space in the basement or garage means plenty of extra space for spare appliances. There was inexplicable increase in second fridges from 1997 to 2009.

There are two main problems with second-fridge energy usage. Usually, it’s your old refrigerator that gets demoted to second-fridge status. These are usually older, or at least old enough to be retired. Yet new rules for appliance energy consumption and general strides in refrigerator technology mean that the new refrigerator is probably much more efficient than its replacement.

The other problem is that second fridges usually end up in the garage, which isn’t climate-controlled as well as the kitchen. That works out in your favor in the winter, but not so much during the summer, or if you live in a temperate climate. Refrigerators and freezers keep things cold better when they’re packed full, and rarely opening that second fridge doesn’t balance out the amount of electricity that it uses when there’s only a box of wine inside.

You could keep the second fridge and simply unplug it during the off-season when you don’t have 25 relatives coming over for dinner.

Why it’s not okay to have a second refrigerator [Wonkblog/The Washington Post]

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  1. Thorzdad2 says:

    If there’s a fridge in the garage, it’s most likely filled with beer year-round.

    • CzarChasm says:

      I keep all my beer in a second (mini) fridge. In my “office” room, not the garage. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
      Besides, I make enough to be able to swing the estimated $27 yearly energy cost without ruining my budget.

  2. GoldHillDave says:

    I’d guess that the mini-fridges are among the least efficient. However I’d like to see the numbers before I make a decision. I might be willing to pay a few dollars a month for the convenience.

  3. theoriginalcatastrophegirl says:

    i keep my second fridge in my utility room, so it’s an insulated space. and a small freezer that was being given away for having a bad thermostat, which i fixed. in my case it works out for being able to buy and freeze in bulk at wholesale clubs – more than pays for the energy cost of the appliances. and i also team up with a friend who does not have that much space but comes to my house every few weeks – we can split a big purchase on a ridiculous amount of meat, portion it out and freeze it, then when we hang out, she takes some of hers home at a time.
    but if it wasn’t a situation where i had a good, money saving use for it all year round, no, i wouldn’t have a second fridge to waste power the rest of the time