Replace an old freezer?
February 10, 2007 9:58 AM   Subscribe

My father refuses to replace his 30-year-old chest freezer.

He doesn't believe me when I tell him his 30-year-old 17.5 cubic feet chest style freezer is costing him a lot of money in electricity, bad for the environment, etc. He refuses under the mantra "it's still running", yet he complains about his power bill.

I'm trying to convince him to buy an Energy Star freezer to replace this rusty old ice box (which is what it is, since it doesn't get defrosted, and most of its space is devoted to ice around the interior walls). They don't use it for anything special -- just to store extra food -- and don't need one nearly that size.

Can anyone point to sites/links that will demonstrate reasons why he needs to replace this really old freezer? Clear, simple, and easy to understand sites and information is best, in this case. (For example, is this freezer his single biggest draw on power, as I suspect?)
posted by jca to Home & Garden (27 answers total)
 
There are gadgets you can buy to measure electricity being used on a household appliance. You could very easily compare the results to the posted usage estimates on brand-new appliances at Sears, Home Depot, etc.
posted by frogan at 10:15 AM on February 10, 2007


A cooling appliance that is more or less older than 15 years will most probably cost more to run than to replace. You can get a $25 electricity consumption meter to measure how much the freezer consumes. Compare that consumption to the consumption of a modern freezer, and you'll be able to see when he would start saving money by buying a new freezer today.

Keep in mind that freezers use more electricity in the summer, and that the older the freezer is, the bigger the difference in consumption between summer and winter will be.

On a tangent, do share your methods if you manage to convince older folks they don't need to have enough food to survive a world war in their home. My grandmother lives alone and has three fridges plus a chest freezer, full of food that slowly turns bad before getting thrown out.
posted by stereo at 10:26 AM on February 10, 2007


Oh, and compact fluorescent lighbulbs save money. Put them in places where the lights are kept on for long periods of time.
posted by stereo at 10:27 AM on February 10, 2007


it's pretty old, and due to break. can't you help it along?
posted by lester's sock puppet at 10:30 AM on February 10, 2007


it's pretty old, and due to break. can't you help it along?

ROFL!

Try looking online for the make/model, and see if you can find the energy specs.
posted by Solomon at 10:34 AM on February 10, 2007


The consumption meter sounds good, but I need sites to send him to so he can read why he should replace it -- something to spell out the benefits of him doing so.
posted by jca at 10:51 AM on February 10, 2007


Well, if your concerns are environmental in nature, consider how much energy/material it takes to make a new freezer and dispose of an old one. What would the net positive environmental impact of this be? I don't have the answer, but I'll bet it isn't good. Sometimes if something isn't broken there's no need to replace it. A lightbulb is one thing, a major appliance is something else entirely.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:52 AM on February 10, 2007


Right, but it's possible that they could salvage/recycle the metal used in the old freezer, whereas it's hard to make the same argument for the power it's burning up now vs the power NOT used in comparison for a newer, smaller model. I would look for a scrap metal recycler or some such in the area and see if they would take it.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:13 AM on February 10, 2007


I need sites to send him to so he can read why he should replace it -- something to spell out the benefits of him doing so.

Energy Star Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator
posted by frogan at 11:18 AM on February 10, 2007


kuujjuarapik, these old appliances use so much energy that even factoring in the amount of money required to make a new appliance, there is going to be a net environmental benefit over time. You make a good point about disposal - it's important not to just dump this thing if it has freon in it.

jca, look into facilities in your area that will dispose of old appliances properly, treating the freon and recycling the metal.

As to your question, this Excel file seems to suggest that you can save about $125 a year in energy costs with a new freezer as opposed to an old one. That's for a 22.5 cubic foot freezer, so a bit bigger than your dad's. But from the sounds of it, your dad's freezer might be even more inefficient than average. On average, new Energy Star appliances are about 45% more efficient than the models they replace.

The information at the bottom of this page suggests that another chest-type freezer is the way to go.

Wait! Yet more information: "refrigerators and freezers now use at least 60 percent less energy than those built in 1984." That's a lot of power! He'll probably pay for his new investment in a year or two with the energy savings.

If he's really stubborn about it, are you in a position to surprise him, say on his birthday or father's day, with a new freezer in place of the old one, which has already made its way to a recycling facility so he doesn't have time to object?
posted by Dasein at 11:31 AM on February 10, 2007


If he's really stubborn about it, are you in a position to surprise him, say on his birthday or father's day, with a new freezer in place of the old one, which has already made its way to a recycling facility so he doesn't have time to object?

If your dad is anything like mine (or me, for that matter), this may backfire spectacularly. If he is determined to waste his money, well, it's his house and his freezer and his money, and you don't get to decide what freezer he uses.

However, Dasein's suggestion to work out how quickly the investment will pay off is a good strategy. The best case scenario would be if the old thing was so inefficent that a new freezer would pay for itself in less than a year. If those numbers work, the next step is to take him to Sears and show him how nicely designed and substantial the new freezers can be. Old appliances were often built to last, and new ones frequently are not -- some skepticism isn't false -- but chest freezers are not necessarily in this category.
posted by desuetude at 11:57 AM on February 10, 2007


If the suggestions above don't work then forget it. He is your dad and will do as he wishes.
There are probably wasteful things you do that he does not approve of. Like, ipod, cellphone, fancy car, etc. heheh
posted by JayRwv at 12:03 PM on February 10, 2007


How about just defrosting the freezer? Couldn't that make a difference?

You can perhaps test the freezer's power consumption before and after defrosting with this
appliance
electricity usage monitor device


If you've been nagging him (of course you haven't been) he may not go for it. But if he does, then comparing electricty usage before and after may prove interesting enough (especially when he calculates the monetary savings) that he'll start to look for other ways to use it.

Just an idea. I think I found the device linked above through another AskMe answer.
posted by amtho at 12:22 PM on February 10, 2007


desuetude is right - too much pressure or just doing it can backfire. After all, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. Some people just don't want to listen to reason when it comes to energy efficiency. It would help if modern applicances weren't built to fail, while old, inefficient ones are built to last. But even if you have to replace a new fridge every 10 years instead of every 30, it's still cheaper to own because of the energy it saves.
posted by Dasein at 12:47 PM on February 10, 2007


Get a kill-a-watt. I have one. They're useful.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 1:26 PM on February 10, 2007


I'm not sure this is an issue that you need to be involved in. Unless he's destitute, just tell him the old freezer is contributing to his high power bills and you're not interested in hearing him complain about them.

Can anyone point to sites/links that will demonstrate reasons why he needs to replace this really old freezer?

From his perspective he doesn't need to replace his freezer and I don't think a site will convince him. As suggested above you've got to measure the actual consumption of the freezer so you can provide hard data on how much a new freezer will save and when it will pay for itself. Frankly, were it my father, I wouldn't bother.
posted by 6550 at 2:03 PM on February 10, 2007


The local power company may be your best ally here (my local provider truly knows which of its residential customers are their biggest hurdles).

Call the utility company that services his area and ask if they do energy audits. My local provider does a nice job with this: they send a guy out, he's quite knowledgeable about saving money on the power bill and in the end, the consumer ends up with a spreadsheet of data about how much each appliance in the house is costing to power annually. Better yet, the service is free...perhaps his power company offers something similar.

While you've got them on the phone also ask if they have rebate program as an incentive to replace older appliances.
posted by jamaro at 2:12 PM on February 10, 2007


jca, look into facilities in your area that will dispose of old appliances properly, treating the freon and recycling the metal.

Do call around to disposal facilities in his area and find out how much they charge to deal with an old freon based freezer like this. Factor that in, or, trust me, you will hear about it.
posted by BoscosMom at 2:57 PM on February 10, 2007


Is he mainly worried about junking it when it still has some life in it -- thereby "wasting" it? Maybe that concern could be alleviated if he could donate (or believe that he was donating) it to a local charity.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:20 PM on February 10, 2007


There is no way to avoid getting a meter and doing the test. Make sure you defrost and clean the unit first, and make sure the location is more or less optimal - properly spaced from the wall, not sitting on a heating vent. If you don't do those things, the number you get from the test won't be comparable to the numbers printed on new models.

On top of that, discount the energy consumption of the new model by some serious factor, because it is a marketing figure (try 1.5 x the number published).

If it looks like a new appliance will pay for itself in under 5 years, it's a no brainer. If it will take 10 years to pay for itself, it probably isn't worth the bother. New appliances have an expected life not much longer than 10 years.

There is a lot of fundamentalism here.. The question itself assumes an answer, which is not a reasonable approach. On top of that, quoting Future Shop, an appliance retailer with an obvious conflict of interest, and a reputation for being disreputable, is probably a bad idea.
posted by Chuckles at 3:55 PM on February 10, 2007


If you don't do those things, the number you get from the test won't be comparable to the numbers printed on new models.

You should also figure out what temperature the room is kept at for energy star testing, and the temperature of the room the freezer actually sits in. You should be able to ratio them based on the cold temperature. Like this:
ΔTreal = Treal room - Tfrozen

ΔTspecification = Ttest room - Tfrozen

Preal = Pspecification x ΔTreal / ΔTspecification
Depending on the old person at issue, they might keep the room much hotter or much colder than whatever Energy Star considers normal.
posted by Chuckles at 4:06 PM on February 10, 2007


There is a lot of fundamentalism here.. The question itself assumes an answer, which is not a reasonable approach.

What do you mean by "fundamentalism"? And why do you feel the question isn't reasonable (as given)?
posted by jca at 7:32 PM on February 10, 2007


Since some made reference to location: the freezer is in a small utility room off of an open carport -- it is essentially outdoors with regards to temperature(s).
posted by jca at 7:34 PM on February 10, 2007


I'm sorry if I was a little brisk, but..

He doesn't believe me when I tell him his 30-year-old 17.5 cubic feet chest style freezer is costing him a lot of money in electricity

It reads like you have assumed a conclusion already. Forgetting all but the straight economics, because other factors are really beyond calculation, I suspect that it will be a fairly close call.
posted by Chuckles at 8:06 PM on February 10, 2007


You don't need to buy a new meter... everyone has a meter right there in their fusebox. Measure the rate you're going through power, unplug the freezer and then measure again. Make sure no other loads vary during this time, so probably best to turn that electric hot-water service off and don't use the stove for the duration of your test.
posted by polyglot at 8:53 PM on February 10, 2007


Maybe register a domain name whyyoushouldreplaceyourfreezer.com and make it look all professional and direct him towards it. :)
posted by perpetualstroll at 9:27 PM on February 10, 2007


Somebody's already done that.
posted by flabdablet at 5:28 AM on February 11, 2007


« Older I can't hear The Office!   |   Adapt Tokina lens to Canon? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.