If soaring household freezer sales are any indication, then the answer is yes.
While this might sound strange, remember that next to plasma televisions and air conditioning, refrigerators and freezers are the biggest energy-cows in American homes. Even Energy Star certified deep freezers swallow around 500 kWh each year—so the adding one to an average home results in about an 18% increase in electricity use.
According to the NPD Group, freezer sales over the last six months have increased more than seven percent since the same time last year; however, all other kitchen appliances have instead shown a decrease in sales. People aren’t buying new freezers to replace the old. They’re buying second freezers to keep in the garage, probably to stock up on the 64-packs of Hot Pockets from Sam’s Club.
Of all the aisles in the grocery store, the frozen section presents the most problems. The food is packaged excessively, shipped in gas-guzzling freezer trucks, and then stored in extra-low-temperature industrial freezers. While the Hot Pockets may be convenient, they’re not a smart choice for the environment.
But with a little extra effort, household freezer space can go to good use. For the peach fanatic who wants the fuzzy fruit year around, there’s a better option than the extra packaging and price of pre-frozen peaches at the supermarket: slice up locally-grown peaches while they’re in season in the Summer, and then freeze them for smoothies in the Fall. The same do-it-yourself method will work for any other fruit or vegetable that can also be purchased frozen—and of course, there’s the age-old practice of freezing your dinner leftovers for a lazy night the next week.
These are good ideas to save money and energy by using the freezer you already own, but buying a new one will only increase your electricity bill and your carbon footprint. If your freezer is full and the economy is taking its toll, try cooking dried beans and legumes in a pressure cooker or preserving your own food through canning with reusable lids and jars. While the poor economy might make going green a bit tougher, it’s certainly not impossible.