Energy Use


Published July 10, 2011


Q:  I recently saw some information advising people to get rid of their old refrigerators for newer energy efficient models. Does this have anything to do with energy savings or are they just trying to sell new refrigerators?

A:  Some sources estimate an older refrigerator uses three times the energy of the newer Energy Star rated models, but the sources did not take into account the age, size or model of the refrigerator.  You can discover how much energy your old refrigerator is using by visiting the Energy Star web site and entering in the information requested.  To find the energy rates in your state, if they are not on your energy bill, go to

The information I have seen estimates 9 percent of your annual energy use is in refrigeration, 44 percent in heating/cooling, 25 percent for appliances, 14 percent for hot water and 7 percent for lighting for a total of 99 percent.  I really don’t know where the other one percent goes.  In 2009 the total estimated residential electrical use in all fifty states was 19,349,042 megawatt hours and that was down from 2008 and 2007 generally falling along the lines of the National Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  When times get tough we tend to turn things off in order to conserve energy and to lower our utility bills.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency:

“From 1949 to 2009, primary energy consumption in the United States nearly tripled.  In all but 16 of those years, primary energy consumption increased over the previous year. The year 2009 provided a sharp contrast to this historical trend, in part due to the recession.  Real gross domestic product (GDP) fell 2% compared to 2008, and energy consumption declined as well: according to the Annual Energy Review 2009, primary energy consumption in the United States fell by nearly 5%.”

In addition to purchasing Energy Star rated appliances, turning the thermostat down one degree for eight hours will lower your energy use for heating by one percent.  Changing furnace filters regularly will conserve energy and so will caulking around the exterior of windows and doors and replacing the weather strips of exterior doors.  Although I’m not a believer in man-made global warming, I am a strong believer in maintaining our natural resources.  The little things we do today can mean a lot to all of us in the years ahead.

C. Dwight Barnett