Photograph by Huw Jones/Photolibrary
The refrigerator is the largest power-guzzler in the typical household. If you bought yours in the early 1990s, chances are it's using two to three times as much energy as current models. In fact, the fridge may account for as much as one-fifth of your annual electricity costs, according to Consumer Reports.
More energy consumption means more coal-fired power plants and more devastation caused by coal extraction. It also means more demand for hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants, with associated hazards to surrounding areas. And it means more emissions of soot and other air pollutants into the atmosphere by power plants burning coal and other fossil fuels. Among these emissions are mercury, a brain-damaging metal that can cause learning disabilities, and carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that is a primary culprit in global warming. For every kilowatt-hour of electricity used in your home, power plants release an average of 1.34 pounds of CO2 into the environment. All in all, reducing energy consumption is the key to a healthier planet.
More Buying Guides
Green Living Video
Find out with our footprint calculator, then pledge to cut it!
The Great Energy Challenge
An initiative to help you understand our current energy situation.
See how you measure up against others, and how changes at home could do tons to protect the planet.
Special Ad Section
The World's Water
NG's new Change the Course campaign launches. When individuals pledge to use less water in their own lives, our partners carry out restoration work in the Colorado River Basin.
A special series on how grabbing water from poor people and future generations threatens global food security, environmental sustainability, and local cultures.