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Old 08-29-2007, 03:00 PM   #1
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Appliance experts: What should I do with my fridge?

I have a GE TBF16DRC top freezer, self-defrost, no ice maker or other accessories. I suspect it to be the same age as the house- 39 years old. It seems to function well enough, and I recently cleaned the coils. However, I became suspicious of it's efficiency last month (kind of a hot one) because it seemed every time I walked past it the dang thing was running. I don't have the patience to sit there and log how often and how long the operating cycles are but roughly it seems to be 40 min on/40 min off in a room that's been about 70 degrees. One web article I found claims just about every fridge out there has a 20 min on/off cycle so that makes mine an oddball right there if they're right. The label says 7.5 amp but a reading taken right after start-up with an inductive amp meter showed 4.4 amp draw, or 528 watts. I got an old meter from the electric utility that is stand-alone; plugged the fridge into it last week and it shows 20 kwh usage over the last 145 hours (6 days + 1 hour) or .138 kw/h or 3.31 kw/day. Further number juggling shows 1208 kw/year or pretty much 101 kw/month. My average monthly usage is 330 so that dang fridge is hogging up quite a bit of my electric budget.

What I'm still wondering is, is this thing running efficiently, for what it is? I'm trying to decide if it should be replaced. Of course were I to live here indefinitely I would just replace it now, but I think I'll hit the road at some point < a year.
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Old 08-29-2007, 03:26 PM   #2
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Considering the cost of a new fridge, you'll be far ahead to keep the one you have until you move. A new one of the same size would surely be slightly more efficient but the difference wouldn't justify buying a new one.

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Old 08-29-2007, 03:56 PM   #3
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I'm trying to figure, is this thing running about as efficiently as it ever did ie. how much is it supposed to consume? 101 kwh/mo (a bit over $9/mo ignoring the other charges on the bill) now vs. ? Can the performance be improved? Would it benefit from a recharge or new door gaskets, and by how much?
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Old 08-29-2007, 05:00 PM   #4
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theclencher -

Do you have the space to "lay it flat" like in that other thread?

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Old 08-29-2007, 06:12 PM   #5
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Quote:
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A new one of the same size would surely be slightly more efficient but the difference wouldn't justify buying a new one.
Not true - go shopping. The new fridges are dramatically more efficient than the 20+ y/o ones. Like 1/2 the energy usage or better.

We just replaced a 30+ y/o fridge with a newer, slightly smaller one (so not strictly apples to apples). The calcs: the new one will pay for itself in 5 years from the energy savings over the old one @ $0.10 / kwh (and that assumes stable prices, which is unlikely).

What I've been wondering: is it practical to add insulation to an old fridge to make it more efficient?

What about adding an "inner half door" so when you open the main door, you can access the stuff on top that you go for regularly, but to get at the less accessed stuff, you have to open another (plexiglass?) panel. That might keep a lot more cool air inside.
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:47 PM   #6
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I believe he said in his post that he is planning on moving in under a year. There is no way a new refrigerator is going to pay for itself in under a year.

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Not true - go shopping. The new fridges are dramatically more efficient than the 20+ y/o ones. Like 1/2 the energy usage or better.
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:51 PM   #7
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OK, I misunderstood your point. I thought you were arguing that the efficiency differences between old/new wouldn't make replacement worthwhile, period.

You were just saying it wouldn't be worthwhile given the time frame.

You could always bring the new fridge with you!
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:53 PM   #8
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If the door gasket isn't sealing it'll be a big waste of energy. Test it by closing a dollar bill in the door in several places and see if there is tension on in when you pull it out. It's highly unlikely that it would benefit from a recharge.

Make sure the condenser coils are clean and that any interior or exterior (under the refrigerator if the condenser is underneath) fans are working and clean. Foam board can be taped to the exterior of the refrigerator unless the condenser is inside the walls.

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I'm trying to figure, is this thing running about as efficiently as it ever did ie. how much is it supposed to consume? 101 kwh/mo (a bit over $9/mo ignoring the other charges on the bill) now vs. ? Can the performance be improved? Would it benefit from a recharge or new door gaskets, and by how much?
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Old 08-29-2007, 07:27 PM   #9
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theclencher, if you're in Ontario that's $10/month. For reference, my Amana fridge over freezer (22 I think) uses just over $5 per month depending on kids and the fridge door, and the 15 year old 10 or 12 ft beer fridge / ex-gf's apt fridge uses $2.50 which is pretty good.

You need to at some point so do some research but you aren't gonna go broke spending a fgew extra months getting the best one for the long haul. The WattsUp power meter is excellent for measuring electrical consumption. You could even plot and show on off cycles with the Pro version. Used that feature to track my boiler last winter.
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Old 08-29-2007, 07:30 PM   #10
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Oh yeah... and for its age, I think that's probably pretty good. I had to show my mother how her still fine working fridge (clean coils, charged etc.) was sucking $20 of zap juice a month. That helped her get the fridge replaced...

$5 extra bucks a month isn't much for the short term.
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