Mike Ansel of Lancaster County, Pa., (pictured left) may have known his refrigerator was old but he was still pleasantly surprised to learn his working 1938 General Electric model won the Oldest Refrigerator Contest hosted by utility firm PPL Electric.
The contest was the first of its kind coordinated with appliance recycler JACO Environmental. From April 1 through August, the contest collected 7,000 refrigerators. The winner from all the utility companies was a 1937 refrigerator recycled by a customer of Duquesne Light in the Pittsburgh area.
PPL Electric Utilities has collected more than 44,000 older, inefficient refrigerators and freezers since launching its appliance recycling program in late 2009.
Ansel acquired the refrigerator from a family member in 1974.
Tom Stathos, director of customer strategy at PPL Electric Utilities, gave Ansel the prize on Tuesday: a $250 Sears gift card. That was in addition to the $35 incentive PPL Electric Utilities gives to all customers who recycle their older refrigerators and freezers.
Joseph Nixon, a spokesman for the company, said the unit was working until the day it was picked up for recycling, according to the rules for the contest.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said that of the 170 million refrigerators and refrigerator-freezers currently in use in the country, more than 60 million are over 10 years old. The agency estimates that costs consumers $4.4 billion a year in energy costs. Over 26 million of the old refrigerators are second units in a home.
Replacing an inefficient fridge that is about 20 years old with one that is Energy Star qualified will save a household roughly 550 kWh per year, or about $65 a year.
The EPA states that an Energy Star qualified fridge is about 15 percent more energy efficient than models that meet the federal minimum energy efficiency standard.
If everyone purchasing a refrigerator this year chose a model that has earned the Energy Star, the country would save 715 million kWh per year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from about 100,000 cars, according to the EPA.
The agency estimates the following costs to run an Energy Star qualified appliance:
- A fridge costs around $50 on average a year to run.
- A top-freezer refrigerator uses about 350 kWh or $40 a year to run on average.
- A bottom freezer users about 460 kWh or $50 a year to run on average.
- A side-by-side refrigerator uses about 530 kWh or $60 a year on average to run.