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Hack Your Own Super Fridge

Be warned: Should you choose to follow the instructions set forth, your hands may be dirtied and your patience may be tried. You may void the occasional warranty or risk having your friends call you “eccentric.” But in the end, you will know the incomparable satisfaction of greenhacking.

This week’s hack: Turn a chest freezer into a hyper-efficient refrigerator

Items needed: 1 chest freezer, 1 external thermostat (available at, 1 very understanding spouse who doesn’t mind pawing through a chest freezer to find the leftover lasagna.

Why this hack: We begin with this hack because it is simple and because the green return on money and time invested is impressive. Utilizing an inexpensive Energy Star chest freezer (about $400 for a 15-cubic foot model) and the aforementioned thermostat ($60), you can save more than half a kilowatt hour per day (and possibly much more: When I implemented this trick on a used Vestfrost freezer I picked up for $200, it consumed less than 1/8th of a kilowatt-hour per day).

If you’re paying $.16/kilowatt hour, that’s a savings of… ah, forget it. Repeat after me: “I hack for the hack, not the payback.”

Why it works: Well, for one, freezers tend to be better insulated than refrigerators. And for another, cold air settles. Every time you open the door to your fridge, cold air is essentially falling out of it; when you lift the lid on a chest freezer, the cold stays where it belongs: In the freezer.

Heart of the hack: Plug in external thermostat. Stick thermostat sensor in freezer (just run the capillary tube between the sensor and the thermostat over the lid gasket; the gasket will protect it from damage when opening and closing your freez… er, fridge), and set thermostat at 40-degrees or so. Plug the freezer into the thermostat and voila! You are a greenhacker.

Handy tips: If this is going to be a long-term arrangement, get some internal dividers for your new chest fridge to minimize the cluster factor. It also helps to elevate the freezer on some sort of base to ease the strain on your back.

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One thought on “Hack Your Own Super Fridge

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