It's hard to figure out how to unplug my fridge when I've got a large family that is thoroughly comfy with the modern American lifestyle. As I've mentioned before, don't-drive-them-nuts is one of my core values. The thrift has to come under the radar. Stealth thrift. Ninja thrift.
So here's a huge wow-are-you-great to Green as a Thistle (see change #78), who did in fact unplug her fridge for nearly a year, and who survived to tell the tale (see her book, Sleeping Naked is Green). And here's my stealth version: my kids call it God's refrigerator. He only turns it on during the winter, but when it works, WOW does it work well!
The main lesson you learn in Energy Consumption 101 is that making things either hot or cold uses most of our household energy (unless you have a flat-screen TV). I love my fuel-efficient car, but even if I drove a HumVee, our biggest gas guzzler would still be my home. I'm a maniac about turning off lights, but the fridge and the dryer are the real energy hogs around here. So when it's cold outside, I don't make my indoor refrigerator burn those KWHs; I stick my food outside to chill, and then I move it indoors into the fridge.
|Leftover squash, cooling off outdoors after a hot meal.|
For a bonus, you can turn the fridge into an ice-box, literally. Fill used jugs or plastic jars with water, stick them outdoors on a cold day, and when they freeze up, move them into the fridge or freezer. If you're like me, the chest freezer is slowly emptying up from the garden produce and bulk-purchased meats. Fill it up!
For me, I've found that jugs of ice/water at the back of the fridge serve a double benefit. First, they help to add "thermal mass" (that is, they keep the fridge cold even when unnamed children open and shut the doors several times an hour). But also, they keep the food I'm storing closer to the front of the fridge. It's hard for stuff to get lost in the back, which helps keep stuff from going moldy.