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We Have The Affordable Green Energy Efficient Prefab. Where Are The Affordable Energy Efficient Appliances? Part 1

Honeychile, this is not about Energy Star.

Remember the super, practical cube freezer I found that has drawers I could then convert into a fridge? The rectangular shape allows the cook to quickly scan and withdraw items, the drawers open at the top to keep the cold air from falling out like it does in conventional refridgerators and freezers.
I would simply convert it into a super energy-efficient fridge like this guy did! And you would be able to do it too, yet still look sleek and mod for not too much money!

...Except they don't make this affordable, practical, dual temperature freezer anymore.
Oh no, they don't.

So I started researching.  And researching.

Here's what I learned about this industry:

  • Lower price points only offer the door-on-the-side, not the more effective door on the top
  • The average price for a smaller, traditional door-on-the-side under the counter fridge at the big box stores is $89 - $200
  • I discovered drawer refrigerators - utilizing the same efficient design concept, with the opening on the top
  • Drawer fridges and freezers are a "luxe" item (who knew practical was so luxurious)- so you can only afford one if you're willing to shell out $1,000 - $2,500 for the same cubic feet!
  • Yes. $1,000. Yes, $2,500. Yes, the same amount of cubic space.
  • Really. Yes, really. This is where this industry is today.
So, like much architecture / available housing, consumers are restricted to poorly designed, inefficient fridges unless they can afford a price point that is beyond most people's reach.

I mean, Tree Hugger's Lloyd Alter and we can't be the only ones that have embraced the efficient top opening, smaller refrigerators!  There have to be plenty of energy efficient, affordable, top opening drawer freezers and fridges out there... right?

Now here's some affordable evaporative coolers Mr. Alter mentions... affordable, sure, but swamp coolers and anything with high, constant humidity is not practical indoors... hello, mold.

Our prefab house kits are made with SIPs (structural insulated panels) that make the house incredibly tight, therefore energy efficient. Even with air exchangers that are a must for any tight, well insulated home, I still don't want to have a huge pot o' water sloshing around emitting water vapor all day and night...

Again, it's like the prefab house kits: Once you understand how a design element makes something function better, more efficiently, why would you ever go back?  Sometimes I speak with enthusiasts about our passive solar house kits and they say, "Well, the view of the lake is to the north, so can we just switch the house to face that way?" I explain how passive solar works, how it helps the prefab house to function. Even if you don't want our prefab house kit, why would you build a Florida Room or glass-filled entrance to the north, knowing you'd be literally watching your hard-earned dollars float out the window?

So, now I know how efficient and better-designed a top-opening refrigerator is, how it keeps the cold air in instead of spilling out like your traditional side door, and... and I just can't spend money on something conventionally designed, knowing there's a better way.

What I find amazing is that the big box stores will offer wine cellars and drink coolers (kind of a frivolous niche...) yet none of them offer top-opening affordable compact fridges (kinda practical?).

Now I might be able to snag some amazing crafty deal where *I* get what I want for a good price, but that's not going to help YOU any, no?

So... stay tuned. 
It might take awhile, but I'll be back with an affordable, practical answer for all of you.

(And more prefab modern house kit pictures and video coming next week...)

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At 11/10/09, 12:55 AM , Blogger Jeff Hooper said...

Have you considered using a thermostat controlled power switch to convert a regular top door freezer into an energy efficient fridge? The freezer power plug piggy backs on the controller plug, and a thermostat stays inside the freezer in turn controlling when the freezer gets power based on temp. It turns the freezer on at a specific higher temp, and then turns it off when it reaches the lower temp, thus converting it into a fridge.

Beer brewers use this technique and here's a link to one such controller: (about mid way down on the page).

Try a google search for more info, as this is not something I've done personally, but have only read about. Good luck!

At 11/10/09, 11:12 AM , Blogger Passive Solar Prefab Homes said...

Thanks for the link and info! I will definitely check it out tonight!

Regarding the top opening fridge, I need to clarify- it does need to be a "drawer" model because look at the kitchen island (most people would want their hidden in some way) - to slide the whole fridge out would be really hard (to *then* open the top) whereas a drawer would be lighter, easier to access.

STILL RESEARCHING... stay tuned!
: )

At 6/12/12, 1:30 PM , Anonymous Marathon Energy said...

It is frustrating to see such a dramatic difference in price! It is hardly encouraging to those who are trying to take small steps to be more energy efficient. I love the idea of hiding a drawer fridge under a kitchen island though! It is great use of space!


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