Sunday, February 6, 2005

Altruism vs. Reality

Our refrigerator broke this week. Just like that. As far as I can tell, the unit is only five years old--it is a massive thing with ice and filtered water available through the door and lots of high-tech buttons. The repairman said the compressor is shot, the unit cannot be fixed.

So we are in the market for a new refrigerator. While Renee and I store our milk and butter in an icecooler on the deck, I am researching the next large appliance to enter our home. The refrigerator is the third largest energy using item in our lives, next to our cars and our home heating/cooling unit.

A few facts: a side-by-side uses 1.5 times more energy than a top/bottom refrigerator-freezer. And there are Energy-star rated appliances versus those that cost just a little less. So, as an energy-conscious consumer, I am avoiding the side-by-side and looking for the Energy-star rating. This is a good move, and cost-effective too.

Here's the problem: there are super super energy efficient units out there, the most well known is called Sun-Frost. I wanted to buy one for the sake of Earth. Sadly, I am NOT buying a Sun-Frost. Why? Because the comparable 110V unit available from alternative energy places costs $2800--well over $2000 more than the standard Energy-star version at Sears. Granted, the Sun-Frost uses 85% less electricity. By my calculations, the unit would pay for itself in energy savings in.... 33 years. Renee said she'll probably be dead by then.

Reality intrudes on my idealism... again. And, of course, I am a proud member of the reality-based community.