Keep the cool side cool: The fridge of the future

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For anybody looking to cut down on household expenses, the refrigerator is the monkey in the wrench, the golem in the gears, the devil in the device. Simultaneously inefficient and poorly insulated, if a refrigerator isn't carefully coddled, it tends to get yucky in the back, uses up extra energy, and releases cold air into your home. They cost a fortune to run and, if you try to save money by turning them down, they don't really do their job properly. Basically, they've got you caught between a rock and hard place.

While refrigerators are probably never going to become completely efficient and green, researchers have worked long and hard to develop an efficient, energy-saving fridge. Recently, scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratories may have figured out how to make the standard refrigerator a whole lot more thrifty.

ORNL's "Fridge of the Future" uses vacuum-insulated panels, polyurethane-foam insulation, highly efficient DC motors and adaptive defrosters to lower its energy expenditure. The superfridge uses a mere 0.93 kWh per day, approximately half the energy expenditure of current refrigerators and one fifth the energy expenditure of 1972 models. While it currently costs $134 more to produce, over its lifetime, it could save far more than that over it's lifetime, particularly if energy costs continue to rise.

While the Fridge of the Future isn't in production yet, its development is highly promising. Now if we can only find a way to make it more affordable!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. Much of his childhood was spent hearing the refrain "Close the damn refrigerator!" The fridge of the future makes him really happy.

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