Profitable Greening - Get Yourself a Free Refrigerator

You too, can participate in the fight against climate change, in a profitable manner. Through carefully planned energy conservation and efficiency measures at home itself, it is possible to achieve handsome monetary savings. Let us see how you may get yourself a free refrigerator.
Combating Climate Change
Mitigation measures are those through which green-house gas emissions are reduced, to attenuate the impact of climate change. The main mitigation measures are energy efficiency, use of renewable energy and carbon sequestration through the growth of forests. The cumulative efforts of energy savings by individuals are significant, as the domestic sector consumes about one third of the total electrical energy produced in Mauritius.
Energy Efficiency
Simply stated, energy efficiency means that we can achieve more output with same or less energy input. Potential gains of the order of 30 - 40% are possible in several sectors, such as transport, buildings, industry. A common example is the use of CFL lamps that consume about 9 watts, but give a light output equivalent to the traditional tungsten lamps that consume 60 to 100 watts. Energy efficiency measures can be implemented incrementally, with minimum risks, and without major investments which are usually associated with renewable energy systems.
Over 90% of Mauritian homes possess a refrigerator, an appliance that consumes more than 5 % of the national electricity production.
The refrigerators that are 10 years old are likely to consume about twice the electricity of current efficient products, while those that are 15 to 20 years old consume about 3 to 4 times more. A new refrigerator today consumes less energy because of technological progress – compressors and cooling systems are more efficient. Also, with time, the wear and tear of magnetic gaskets allow infiltration of warm air, which reduce the efficiency of old refrigerators as the compressors have to work harder and hence use more energy.
Energy rating system
In Mauritius, labelling of electrical appliances has recently been started by a handful of companies on a voluntary basis – pending regulations to be enforced towards the end of the year. The products labelled as A+++ have the lowest energy consumption, while those categorised as G in the annexed label sample are the most inefficient. Although the more efficient products cost more, the difference in price is usually offset by the higher operating energy charges you will incur for the inefficient products.
Savings scenarios
The following three scenarios, among numerous possibilities, will help to understand better.
You have a double door refrigerator of 350 lts capacity, which is 10 to12 years old, and it is likely to be consuming about 800 kilowatt hour (kWh) per year. You could consider a new one of similar capacity, in the A+ category, rated at about 300 kwh per year, and costing around Rs18,000. You could thus save 500 kWh of electricity annually, amounting to Rs 4,385 (500 kWh x Rs 8.77) on your CEB bill, in case your energy usage is above 350 kWh per month. You would use these savings to pay back your brand new refrigerator in about 4 years, and thereafter keep the savings in your pocket.
Your 250 lts refrigerator is 15 to 20 year-old, consuming about 900 kwh per year, and you use about 300 kWh of electricity monthly. By choosing an A+ model, consuming around 250 kWh annually and costing about Rs16,000, you can achieve annual savings of Rs 4,582 (650 kWh x Rs 7.05) to pay back your refrigerator in 3 ½ years only.
Your refrigerator is just a few years old, but belongs to a highly inefficient category. Replacement by an equivalent new efficient product can prove feasible within a few years.
Payback as a function of electricity unit cost
Several permutations are possible – depending on the actual status of your refrigerator, your CEB bill, and the price and kWh rating of the replacement product. You may seek technical help for a more precise assessment of the energy consumption of your refrigerator, to ensure you take the right decision.
The higher the kWh rate you pay to the CEB (refer to the verso of your bill), the faster you recover your investment. If the above scenarios occur in a commercial environment (shop, restaurant, office etc.), where the CEB charges Rs 10.01 per kWh, your payback period will be shorter.
Estimating the consumption of your refrigerator
You can have a fair idea of the electricity consumed by your refrigerator, by observing and recording your CEB meter reading and the time, at the beginning and end of a period, when you are not using other electrical items. For example, you could choose the period when you are at work, assuming there are no other electrical items in use.
Calculate the average units used per hour, and multiply by 24 to have the daily energy consumption, and by 365 to have the yearly amount. The period of monitoring should be of several hours, to obtain a more reasonable estimate. Over a short period of 1 to 2 hours, the error can be very high, as the compressor switches on and off periodically.
In Mexico, about 1.5 million refrigerators and air-conditioners have been replaced since 2009, when government launched a scheme with incentives, for such old appliances. In our case, there is no need for incentives at this stage to implement this measure. Rather, consumers should be educated and sensitised. And, businesses should take the lead to identify the consumers who could qualify, and help them for a win-win situation.
Incidentally, replacement of old refrigerators is recommended by the National Energy Commission. I have no doubt that several thousands of our refrigerators will qualify for such a feasible replacement. However, it is essential that for the disposal of old refrigerators, care is taken to recuperate the CFC gas (which are detrimental to the ozone layer) and to avoid dumping them in the nearby river. A definite downside would be an aggravation of the situation at Mare Chicose. Good news could be that some proactive entrepreneur seize this opportunity for creative metal recycling.
I hope you are convinced that more – much more - profitable greening is possible!