Freedom through superior refrigeration

Let’s take a moment to talk about something that helps with energy, food, water, and financial freedom and barely requires any time or work on our part.  It might seem boring, but it is the wonderful world of refrigeration!  Okay, so adding an exclamation point doens’t make it exciting.  Oh well, I tried.

The food supply in our refrigerator was running a bit low lately, and normally I try to keep it full, to have energy freedom, food freedom, and to cut down on costs.  So I filled a few jugs from our water filter and tossed them in the fridge.  Done.  1 minute tops.  More freedom.  Why did I do this?

Solid (more dense) materials maintain their temperature far better than gases.  This is why people use ice cubes rather than a cooler full of cold air to keep our food and beverages cold at a barbecue or on a camping trip.  In addition, a single larger object does this better than a bunch of smaller individual objects.  This is why freezer packs hold their temperature longer than a bag of ice cubes, and why those of us in cold climates break up the ice on our driveways to make it melt faster (if we get lucky enough to have temperatures where it can melt).

The solid vs. gas reasoning should be pretty intuitive to all of us, but the reason the large single mass holds its temperature better than a bunch of smaller masses is that it transfers its heat (or cold) to the air surrounding it as the air and object attempt to reach a point where they are both the same temperature (at which point your ice has melted).   This means that since a large object has less surface area for gases to make contact with, it loses its heat or cold at a slower rate since it is transferring it to a smaller amount of air.

Since dense materials hold their temperature better than gases, filling your refrigerator and freezer well will mean they turn on less often.  The stuff in your fridge is acting like the ice in your cooler, which does not need to be plugged in to stay cold for quite a while.  When the refrigerator does kick on, it cools the air, which cools the thermal mass we have placed in there.  When it turns off, the thermal masses continue to keep the air cool longer and prevent the refrigerator from kicking back on as soon.

Note that you do not want to pack the fridge or freezer so full that the air will not circulate well, because we will then have some objects which do not get as cold as others, if at all.  This is not typically an issue since the things we put in the fridge are different dimensions, allowing air flow.  We also typically don’t pack it so much that we have to take everything out just to get to that one thing way in the back that we need.  Most refrigerator shelves can actually handle quite a bit of weight, but judge yours for yourself.

Many of us have cases of water or soda that we keep in a pantry, a basement, or the garage.  Throwing a case in our fridge can fix our empty fridge syndrome rather quickly.  On another note, refrigerators with a freezer on top are more efficient (all other things being equal) since the cold air from them falls towards the fridge, which is usually the larger more empty area.  This is why a chest freezer is more efficient than an upright freezer.  When you open a chest freezer, there is not a bunch of cold air rushing it so that it can sink lower, it’s already been able to do so.

So for a quick recap:

  • Your food freedom comes from the fact that having a fully stocked fridge means you can go longer without depending on others for food.
  • Your water freedom follows the same reasoning, and has an added bonus of having some water on hand if a main breaks or you have a boil water advisory in your area.
  •  Your energy freedom comes from the fact you are less dependent on energy to keep your food cold on a temporary basis.   It is generally easier to use less energy than to produce it ourselves from alternative sources.
  • Your financial freedom comes from a lower energy bill and from likely buying food in larger quantity to fill your fridge.  That second part might sting at first, but remember you will  be spending this money at some point anyways, so as long you can budget for the extra food without debt, you haven’t actually lost a single cent.

I know this seems like a simple tip with little impact, but it is a small habit, and a hundred small habits can produce an amazing impact on our lives.  In many ways our life is simply a collection of the habits we have acquired over the years.  So go stuff your fridge with that extra stuff and remember, “Produce your freedom, or life will produce your chains.” -Me

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