Did you know that reducing the energy use of your refrigerator is one of the single most effective "green" steps you can take in your home. As we all know, reducing energy demand results in reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants, and a fridge uses a lot of energy - a heck of a lot, depending on what type you have.
Indeed, who would have thought that this once simply invented block of ice would become a sophisticated food chiller responsible for an average of 13 percent of our household energy usage. And that's a modern refrigerator, full of super thin, highly efficient insulation. If your fridge is clocking in at a decade or two, that figure skyrockets.
If you have an older refrigerator, however, you can save even more on your energy bills with an energy-efficient refrigerator. For instance, ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerators use up to 40 percent less energy than conventional (non-energy star) models.
Of course, once you have your new fridge, what do you do with your old one? Recycling is the obvious alternative, but have you ever considered upcycling? Upcycling has massive environmental benefits. Aside from minimising the volume of discarded materials and waste being sent to landfill each year, upcycling also reduces the need for production using new or raw materials which means a reduction in air pollution, water pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and often a conservation of global resources.
Indeed there are many imaginative ways that you can reuse your old appliances - in this case your fridge; ways that you probably never imagined before.
With a little time and creativity, here are some ways that people around the world have revived their old, end-of-life fridges - and with awesome results!
One small stray dog in China was no doubt thankful to receive the royal treatment with this expansive doghouse made from a recycled fridge!
A designer in the Shanghai-based firm found Chuichui and decided to offer her a home at the Y-town office's garden near the Huangpu River. The dog didn't have a place to sleep, so the designers came up with this repurposed home. Y-town is no stranger to recycling and repurposing objects - they have been creating recycled refrigerator furniture since 2008, so the dog house was a no-brainer.
Laid on its side, the Bosch refrigerator's compartments perfectly divided up the small pooch's living space. The door was opened to create an entrance and exit ramp, and the refrigerator's main compartment was outfitted with a soft cushion to serve as the sleeping area. The other wire rack-divided compartments became areas for drinking water or eating puppy chow. Y-town also added a piece of glass to serve as a sloped roof, which overhangs the ramp. I'm sure many animal rescue centres around the world could use fridges like this.
This recycled animal home has since become all the rage, with Chuichui the dog becoming a star on Weibo (China's version of Twitter). Y-town has also been known to redesign and recycle other waste materials including billboard posters and even clothing. Talk about ending up at the right place at the right time!
Now that the summer season is here, you're probably looking forward to the long, warm summer nights, perfect for BBQs and bonfires with close friends and family. With this brilliant DIY mega cooler, you can keep enough drinks and food stocked outside to last the whole evening for everyone, without having to keep going inside to grab more.
This fridge-to-cooler conversion looks expensive and complicated, but it's much easier than you'd think! Don't you just love the repurposed disassembled pallets that form the chic reclaimed exterior? It even has a base and casters so it is conveniently portable. This would make a nice weekend project.
If you've got an old, broken fridge sitting in your garage, the project should run you only $40 or so, and it doesn't require any special tools beyond standard items like drills, drivers, and saws. Check this out for the how-to guide for this cooler in particular.
Refrigerator Door Table
Fridges are mostly made from plastic-wrapped steel, which makes them extremely sturdy. If you have an unused fridge and are able to strip off the door, why not create an outdoor table, like this young designer did in 2012. Arjun Rathi, a Mumbai-based student designer, built a cool table out of vintage Kelvinator fridge door, and the condenser coils and metal used for support were procured from scrap markets in the city.
The table consists of a vintage Kelvinator door, its condenser coils and metal procured from various scrap markets of Mumbai. The vintage door was restored to its original colour using duco paint finish with a coat of lacquer. The condenser coils and recycled metal were acid cleaned and powder coated black.
It's easy to see why Rathi won 1st Place for this coffee table design at the Eco Arts Awards, USA, in 2012 I would definitely use it in my living room!
It is not a big deal to turn an old, unused fridge into a bookcase. Yes, anyone can do it! this is a fine idea to repurpose an old refrigerator into a storage unit that'll assist in banishing clutter from your home. Such a repurposed fridge bookcase can be ideally placed in a study or elsewhere.
Try and keep the original look of the fridge, that is the key to an interesting make. The more retro, the better. You could decorate with stickers and decorative accessories to enhance the appeal, or keep it plain for a classic look.
Perhaps the most eye-catching upcycled piece of all is this retro-looking, unique couch.
Canadian designer Adrian Johnson makes exclusive furniture items by recycling old fridges. Fridgecouch is one of his most appreciated creations. He has created three of these couches using vintage refrigerators and car seats rescued from the scrap yards.
All of them are handcrafted, thereby making it possible to create a unique piece every time. Each one features a side table made out of the fridge door and has speakers integrated into it.
Here's another cool couch made from a recycled fridge. Transfo design, a Spanish design studio created this creative sofa on wheels using an out of commission refrigerator and upholstered seats with discarded PVC advertising banners. There's also a flexible reading lamp on the side. What a wonderful piece of upcycled furniture to lounge upon with a good book!
As you can see - if you have the time and creativity - there are many ways you can reuse end-of-life large appliances like fridges. And while we all have a huge responsibility to incorporate recycling into our daily lives as we move through the 21st century, finding more ways to reduce waste is becoming an increasingly important part of minimizing our impact on our environment. And this is why upcycling matters just as much.
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