Lissa Guilbault asks: My fridge is more than 10 years old and needs some maintenance. The deal offered by Hydro-Québec is that they will come and pick up any fridge that's 10 years plus and give you $60 for it. Is it better for the environment to repair my old clunker and keep it running, or take the deal offered by my Hydro provider, turn in my old fridge and maybe save some energy?
Just like computers and cell phones, major household appliances have made significant advances in the energy efficiency in recent years. For instance, a fridge purchased before 1993 could cost you as much as $100 each year to operate. A newer model, meanwhile, can cut that figure in half.
I would recommend taking advantage of your Hydro company's offer (and many provinces have similar programs) — purchase that new fridge. Look for the most energy efficient model (usually with an EnergyStar label) and match the fridge size to your own needs. Design alone will give you clues about energy efficiency. Refrigerators with a top freezer are the most efficient, while those with bells and whistles, such as automatic ice makers or built-in water dispensers, will consume between 14 and 20 per cent more energy. Split doors are the worst energy consumers.