July 20, 2018
Personal Appliances – Refrigerators
There are many ways to lower energy bills in our schools. Frequently, one that often gets the most attention when an energy program is implemented is the elimination of personal appliances in the classroom, particularly small personal refrigerators. Even if the district has a policy stating personal refrigerators are not allowed in classrooms, they tend to show up at the beginning of each school year. There is no question they are more convenient than sharing space in a crowded refrigerator in the teacher’s lounge.
Two Reasons for High Electricity Usage
Unfortunately, small personal refrigerators use quite a bit of electricity for two primary reasons. We generally do not turn them off when they are not in use. Most of the time they are left running day and night, weekends, holidays and even during the summer months when the classroom is empty. They are refrigerators and most of us are not in the habit of turning them off. Most units do not even come equipped with a power switch.
The other reason is a little more technical. Unlike full-sized refrigerators, which have an external condenser and fan, compact refrigerators typically use their exterior walls to dissipate heat. As a result, they tend to be much more sensitive to room temperature than full size models. The warmer the room, the more energy they use. If they are enclosed in a cabinet or away from free flowing air, they can possibly use more electricity than a full size refrigerator.
Consumer Reports estimates an operating cost range of $27-$80 annual electrical costs when set at 37 degrees based on 11.5 cents per kwh. Consider as many as 10 classroom refrigerators per school in a district with 50 schools. Dependent on type, use and placement of the units, this could increase the district’s electricity costs by as much as $40,000 a year.
In some cases small refrigerators in classrooms may be necessary, in which case special permission could be granted by appropriate district administration. Otherwise teachers and school staff should consider energy waste and additional costs to the school district and use centrally located refrigerators centrally located on the school campus.
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