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Refrigeration / cooking and waste heat in winter


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My kitchen lacks one of those gradually-adjustable lights. Sometimes when I get up in the middle of the night I want a light that's just bright enough to help me see what I'm doing when I eat, but not as bright as the overhead lights. Sometimes, therefore, I use the refrigerator's partly-opened door. I'm fully aware that the refrigerator doesn't just produce light, but also heat, from the fact that relocating heat from the interior of the refrigerator to the exterior thereof converts electrical energy to heat energy in the process.

 

However... since this is the same thing my electrical heaters in my apartment do anyway... does that mean that, so long as I adjust the thermostat down afterwards... that the effect is cancelled out? (Presuming I do not leave the refrigerator door open long enough to contribute in any non-negligible way to food spoilage.)

 

Same thing with cooking. In theory I could just bake all my potatoes in the oven in one go to soften them up, then just microwave a different already-softened potato every few hours for a few days so I can consume them all before they go bad. However, I would much rather bake them one at a time so I can have each one of them fresh from the oven, and I presume in winter, again, the effects of this would be cancelled out by turning down the thermostat, would they not?

 

Now don't get me wrong, I intend to find out what batteries my flashlight uses, get plenty of them, and find a way to set up my flashlight to point toward the table so I don't have to continue to generate waste heat in the spring and summer. I don't intend to let a partially opened refrigerator become a long-term habit. However, in the meantime, I'd like to know whether or not I am wasting any non-negligible amount of electricity that wouldn't otherwise have been consumed by my electric heaters keeping the apartment warm from the bitter cold outside.

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Have you considered investing in a couple of small appliances?

I have a gizmo that bakes two little pies in about 10 minutes, and a grilled cheese sandwich maker. They cost $6 each at the thrift store. The crock-pot set me back all of $10, about seven years ago, and it's still earning its keep in the form of soup, stew, rice and bean dishes.  You and the baked potatoes might benefit from a toaster oven. They cook single batches of other foods, as well, like burgers and pizza.

Also, you could install an LED strip light, for when you don't need the overhead light - under a cabinet, or above the stove or sink or both, for when you just need a drink and don't even have to open the fridge.  

Of you're heating with electricity, lights are relatively negligible, but you could have a measurable saving on other things, of which cooling, cooking and clothes-drying are the most substantial. BTW, you may want to put your microwave on a power bar and switch it off when not in use, so it doesn't drain way wattage while sitting idle. https://energyusecalculator.com/electricity_microwave.htm Some other appliances may do, as well, if they have any kind of timing or remote control devices. As a general rule of thumb, the fancier they are, the costlier they are.

 

Edited by Peterkin
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On 3/13/2022 at 7:19 AM, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

the refrigerator doesn't just produce light, but also heat, from the fact that relocating heat from the interior of the refrigerator to the exterior thereof converts electrical energy to heat energy in the process.

But it will be inefficient and likely will impact how quickly food goes bad. Food in the door and at the front is likely to be more affected. The fridge will work harder re-cooling itself, with greater use of electricity than a light - with no real difference by changing the thermostat setting, except to make it go colder than before, once the door is closed.

Even a low power night light left on might be a better alternative.

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2 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

But it will be inefficient and likely will impact how quickly food goes bad. Food in the door and at the front is likely to be more affected. The fridge will work harder re-cooling itself, with greater use of electricity than a light - with no real difference by changing the thermostat setting, except to make it go colder than before, once the door is closed.

Even a low power night light left on might be a better alternative.

The ice box, if it has one, will be unusable in no time if it has one, from condensing and freezing more moisture due to inceased exposure to external ambient air. A comfort plug light for children would be ideal and addresses  the need for low intensity.

Edited by StringJunky
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