Here's the setup: we were listening to NPR a week or two ago (KQED in San Francisco.) They were reading letters to the editor, and apparently had earlier run a piece on people adding exterior insulation to refrigerators in order to increase their energy efficiency.
The idea was simple and appealing: simply glue foam insulation or cut wool carpet batting to size, apply to fridge, then sit back and save money.
We immediately envisioned a Fridge Cozy empire of hand-sewn, organic wool and cotton fridge cozies in trendy patterns, but, sadly, our reverie was quickly broken.
The letters they read on air didn't quite tell the whole story, so we've done a bit of research. From what we've learned, here's the scoop:
- It makes sense to add insulation to your fridge if and only if it is an older model with external coils. Coils are the piping on the back of the fridge, and the way the fridge dissipates heat to keep the contents cool. Newer models with no visible coils use the entire exterior metal surface of the appliance to accomplish the same task, so adding insulation is counterproductive.
- Foam insulation has the highest insulation value per inch, but it's highly flammable. (Rigid foam can burn like gasoline.)
- Wool batting—the cheapest source would be scraps of wool carpet pad—is a safer alternative. Wrap the fridge, then cover the wool with something you can take off and toss in the wash.
We found a discussion over at DIY Network that hits most of the points, minus the flammability issue.
We've been trying to track down the original NPR story with no luck. If you heard it, let us know and we'll update this post with the link.
image by readman via sxc.hu