The Iceman Wondereth
August 23, 2012 6:43 PM   Subscribe

How much is an ice cube from my fridge worth?

It is very important that I know how much a single ice cube from my Fridgidaire automatic ice maker costs me. OK, actually not important at all. But, by virtue of even thinking of the question, I am curious. How much is one of those little frozen dudes worth.

Should you choose to take this on, factor in average electrical and water costs, but not the price of the Fridgidaire (but perhaps it's depreciation if you really want to get crazy)

I am neither mathmatically qualified nor energetic enough to try to work this out myself.
posted by ecorrocio to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Depends. Supply and Demand
posted by MyMind at 6:48 PM on August 23, 2012

At my local grocery store, a 6 pound bag of cube ice costs $1.29. Your ice cube probably weighs half an ounce? If so, then it would be about two thirds of a cent.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:50 PM on August 23, 2012

Response by poster: Re: supply and demand: yes, that's a factor with regard to the price of water and electricity, but I'm interested in a calculation based on current average household water and electrical prices.

I realize if that ice cube was on offer between two guys crawling across desert sand dunes, both dying of thirst, it might be worth a lot. But that's not what I'm asking.
posted by ecorrocio at 6:59 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Re: store ice cubes: indeed, but they have a profit margin built in. Plus packaging, refrigeration, shipping, and general business overhead. I'm guessing my homemade ice cube is far cheaper!
posted by ecorrocio at 7:02 PM on August 23, 2012

([Volume of water contained in a single cube, expressed as a fraction of a gallon] x [Average cost of water per gallon in your area])
(((([Cost of your refrigerator when new WITH an ice maker] - [Cost of your refrigerator when new WITHOUT an ice maker]) / [Total minutes you have owned your refrigerator]) * [Time in minutes your icemaker takes to make a tray of ice]) / [Number of ice cubes in a tray])
(((([Watts in electricity per hour your fridge consumes] - [Watts in electricity per hour your same-model fridge SANS icemaker would consume]) * [Fraction of an hour your icemaker requires to make a tray of ice])) / [Number of ice cubes in a tray])
((([Average watts of electricity consumed by your freezer per minute when its door is OPEN] * [Average cost of electricity per watt in your area] * [Average minutes per week that you would have the door of your fridge open per week SOLELY TO MANUALLY MAKE ICE, if you did not have an icemaker])) / [Average number of ice cubes you would manually make each week if you did NOT have an icemaker])
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:07 PM on August 23, 2012 [9 favorites]

I did not include a deduction for wear 'n tear on your refrigerator potentially REDUCED by owning an ice maker, because there is realistically no way to tell if your fridge will need repaired/replaced sooner because of the minutes you spend opening/closing the freezer to manually make ice.
posted by julthumbscrew at 7:13 PM on August 23, 2012

Response by poster: Julthumbscrew: Perfect! Now I just need a number. (refer to question paragraph 4: "I am neither...)
posted by ecorrocio at 7:17 PM on August 23, 2012

Since my previous answer was a bit lazy as well (we are on the same page I suppose). This is all based on data found online but if you know your specifics we can plug those into the equation that I think is pretty simple.

[(Electricity + Water)-depreciation]/number of cubes per month = cost of ice cube

I can't find a water use calculator that includes drinking water/ice which makes me think it is negligible. Let's say 50 cents which seems high considering average monthly is like 50 dollars total.

4.55 + .50 = 5.05

Let's say you make 5 ice cube a day in a 30 day month.

5.05/150 = .03 cents!

The refrigerator depreciation is something to consider but I'm way to lazy for that.
posted by MyMind at 7:23 PM on August 23, 2012

Actually, the first 2 answers are the best. That's because 'worth' and 'value' are not abstract constructs -- nor are they ecorrocio-specific constructs.
The value of the ice cube is simple.: It's what what the market will pay for it. That value might be influenced a little by a do-it-yourself-in-my-own-freezer ice cube, but it's influenced much more by the 7-11 store's price. To me and most everyone else on planet, the value of the ice cube is what we have to pay for it.
But good luck with your quest. It's great to see people interested in these things.
posted by LonnieK at 8:14 PM on August 23, 2012

Response by poster: LonnieK: Thanks. All true - but the simple cost of an ice cube from my fridge today is all I'm looking for. Cost to me. $ from my wallet today. Not the more abstract and nebulous value of said cube in the market (and indeed that would fluctuate). I know what a gallon of gas cost me today. How's about this little chunk of frozen water?
posted by ecorrocio at 8:47 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you have a through-the-door icemaker, then you could neglect the whole door open vs door closed thing. You pretty much just need to consider the marginal cost of the additional electricity consumed by the refrigerator to freeze the water into ice, plus the cost of the water itself. In fact even with an ice maker inside the freezer I think this would be a pretty good first-order estimate of the cost. (I've been told that the increased cooling load as the result of running an ice maker is quite high, and can almost double the freezer's power consumption at maximum ice production.)

That would require knowing:
1. The cost of water
2. The cost of electricity
3. The efficiency of your refrigerator/freezer (the EER), or some value that lets us back it out or set a reasonable minimum for it, like an Energy Star rating
4. The type of ice cubes produced, or better yet the number of ice cubes per pound of ice, so we can figure out how much water is in each one (or, put 20 ice cubes in a measuring cup and let them melt and see how much water is in there)

Without that information you can't really make anything more than a very rough guess, and the results are going to vary substantially depending on them. Someone with an ancient freezer making big half-moon ice cubes in San Francisco is going to have a much higher cost than someone with a brand-new Energy Star freezer in Idaho.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:41 PM on August 23, 2012

I think people are getting confused because you are asking for what it's worth but from your description you really want to know what it costs. These are two different things.

Do calculate the cost we would need more information than what you are providing.

What do you pay for water? How much per gallon?
What do you pay for electricity? How much per kilowatt hour?
How long does it take your freezer to freeze the ice?
How efficient is your refrigerator? How many watts does it take to run it for an hour.
posted by Bonzai at 9:43 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

You may also want to include sewage charges, since city sewage fees are often billed proportionately to water consumption.

I've been told that the increased cooling load as the result of running an ice maker is quite high

My guess is that's mostly just the cost of freezing the water, which would be the same whether it happens in an ice maker or a cheap plastic tray you have to empty yourself, though there's also the cost to run the solenoid valve that controls water flow, a heating element to unstick the "cubes" from the mold, a motor to kick them out of the mold and, in the case of through-the-door dispensers, another motor to move the cubes through the dispenser. It's gonna be pretty difficult to calculate all this with much accuracy. You'd be better off measuring power consumption (using a Kill-A-Watt sort of device) with the ice maker turned on for a few days, then off for another few days, and comparing the results.
posted by jon1270 at 2:22 AM on August 24, 2012

I like the formula proposed above, but I wonder whether it needs to include some provision for cubes not immediately used. A cube that is fully frozen and not immediately used would incur some storage cost (electricity to keep it frozen and lost opportunity cost in making new cubes), no? I have no idea how to incorporate this into the answer though - just a thought.

It's taking awhile to get a number because there's not really a constant figure for the cost of water and electricity. It will depend very much on where you live.
posted by owls at 7:59 AM on August 24, 2012

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