A rarely used second refrigerator in the garage or basement may be worth more unplugged

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Old refrigerators are not as energy efficient as new models.

Area residents can save up to $150 in annual energy costs and get up to $40 cash back by recycling an older fridge through Energy Trust of Oregon

Keeping extra food and beverages cool in a second fridge in the garage or basement may cost more than you think — whether it’s a lone six-pack of soda, a bulk buy from a supermarket sale months ago or party snacks for a summer picnic.

Refrigerators and freezers built in 1993 and earlier can waste up to $150 a year in energy costs. Many households keep these older units as a backup without realizing the added expense. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, more than one in four U.S. homes now has a second fridge. The good news is there’s an easy way to trim those excess costs and earn some extra cash.

To help area residents unplug and save, Energy Trust of Oregon is offering free fridge recycling that includes in-home pickup, responsible recycling of refrigerators and freezers and an incentive of up to $40 cash back, depending on the age of the appliance. Customers can keep their incentive or choose to donate it to Oregon Food Bank — a $40 incentive provides the equivalent of 120 meals to families in need.

“For those with a hand-me-down or kitchen castaway second refrigerator or freezer, unplugging and recycling it can be a fast way to save energy and add dollars back to the monthly budget,” said Matt Braman, residential program manager, Energy Trust. “It may pay to switch to a bucket of ice to cool those summer drinks, and you save more in the long-run.”

Older fridges can use up to two to three times more energy than today’s more energy-efficient options. For homes with older second fridges, that extra energy use can really add up. In five years, a fridge built before 1993 can cost up to $750 to operate. In comparison, today’s qualifying ENERGY STAR® models only cost around $40 a year, or $200 to operate for five years.

Energy Trust launched its refrigerator recycling service in August 2008 and to date has recycled more than 97,000 refrigerators and freezers. In 2013, this helped participants save more than $6 million on energy bills, which is enough energy equivalent to powering approximately 4,800 average Oregon homes for a year.

Last year, Energy Trust began offering customers a new option to donate their fridge recycling cash incentive to Oregon Food Bank. To date, customers have donated more than $48,000, helping Oregon Food Bank provide the equivalent of approximately 150,000 meals to Oregon families in need. With this success, Energy Trust is extending the donation option to customers through 2014.

Oregon customers of Portland General Electric and Pacific Power are eligible for fridge recycling through Energy Trust. Appointments can be scheduled online at or by calling 1-866-444-8907.

To qualify, a refrigerator or freezer must be between 10 and 30 cubic feet and in working condition. A cash incentive of $40 is available for qualifying refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 1993. Models manufactured in 1993 or after are eligible for a $20 incentive.

Energy Trust of Oregon is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping utility customers benefit from saving energy and generating renewable power. Its services, cash incentives and energy solutions have helped participating customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas save more than $1.3 billion on energy bills. Its work helps keep energy costs as low as possible, creates jobs and builds a sustainable energy future.

Learn more at or call 1-866-368-7878.

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