The average household freezer is a silent slave. It operates year in and year out, requiring nothing other than a constant supply of electricity. Eventually, though it may need to be replaced.
The following are a few considerations that will allow you to make an informed decision about its purchase.
Most consumers have only a few concerns (other than price) when purchasing a freezer:
1 … What size do I require?
2 … How much electricity will it consume?
3 … What (if any)options do I need?
Size of course depends upon your needs. Generally though, most people purchase too large a freezer. They base their judgement upon perceived usages rather than real usage. Their reasoning is: We “might" need a larger one in case there “may be" a special at the grocery store on something. The reality though is that most freezers end up being operated only half full.
Also, remember that all frozen foods should be consumed within six weeks. Foods stored longer than that can become dehydrated no matter how well wrapped. As the moisture leaves the food both taste and nutritional value will be lowered. So anything stored longer than six weeks will probably end up being thrown out. As an example, how much ice cream have you thrown away because ice crystals started to form inside the package? That ice forming inside the package is dehydration at work.
Therefore, when trying to decide how big a freezer to purchase we suggest using what we call the “six week rule".
To use this rule you first approximate how much “frozen" food your family consumes in a six-week period. Then envision how much space those items would require if stacked on your kitchen counter. That will give you an idea of the physical size of freezer you require.
Lastly, don’t forget that the chest style freezer will require twice the floor space of an upright. This may be an important factor if you live in an apartment.
Although freezers are efficient consumers of electricity they will definitely increase your electrical bill.
An upright freezer consumes more electricity. This is because every time it is opened the cold air spills out onto the floor. Consequently, it runs more frequently. Also today’s uprights are often frost free, which by their nature consume much more electricity. So we have to pay for the advantage of not having to defrost it.
Chest freezers are more efficient consumers of electricity because the cold air lies inside even though the lid is lifted to access the contents. But, chest types are manual and will need to be shut down and defrosted once a year.
Are there ways to lower the electrical consumption of our freezers? Perhaps.
To lower electrical consumption some people only use their freezer seasonally. During summer and fall, when freshly grow food is available, they clean out the freezer and turn it off. It is started back up again for winter and spring usage. This practise is common with gardeners who primarily want to store their fall vegetables. Seniors also do this because getting out in the winter is more difficult. Therefore they use a freezer to reduce the number of trips to the grocery store.
Some people are now suggesting a practice called freezer blocking to lower consumption. This entails filling any unused space in the freezer with blankets or boxes of insulation. The theory is that only the food area would be cooled because air circulation is being blocked off from unused sections. The smaller the space being cooled, the less the freezer should operate.
Others suggest filling unused space with containers of water. They would become frozen and act as a thermal media that in theory would lower the run time of the freezer. The jury is still out on these ideas. To me seems like an over reaction by people who bought too large a freezer in the first place.
Since most freezers are relegated to the basement they are not an appliance that needs to look pretty. Neither do most consumers feel a necessity for them to have many options. Most are simply regarded as large storage boxes where frozen foods are kept for later usage.
Recently though manufacturers they have been offering a few more options. Things such as frost free, built in alarms, digital temperature displays, push button controls, and quick freeze are now on the market. All options on a freezer can serve a purpose but must be offset with the possibility of increased complexity. The more complex a device the more possibility of it breaking down. Plus, along with complexity usually comes increased cost.
One of the more unusual things you will see comes from Haier America. It is a chest style freezer with a pull out drawer at the bottom. The upper half is a basic chest freezer for long term storage. The lower half allows quick access via a drawer that slides out. The idea is that the drawer section is for items that need to be frozen – but will be used within a few days.
Food preferences have changed significantly in the last decade. We are eating less beef and more poultry and vegetables. Consequently, consumers now store less than 50 pounds of beef at any time.
Twenty years ago freezers sold would average fifteen to twenty cubic feet. Today the most popular size for a freezer is seven to twelve cubic feet. Again a reflection upon the fact that more people are consuming fresh foods rather than frozen.
So it is time to finally make that choice of what to buy. Hopefully, some of the ideas above will help you make an informed decision. Remember to take a close look at the Energuide before purchasing. It offers a lot of information to help with an informed decision. But more on the Energuide in future issues.
March 1, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Donald Grummett. All right reserved.
In the trade over 30 years as a technician, business owner, and technical trainer. For more information about appliances including Frequently Asked Questions, Stain guide, Newsletter, and Recycling visit http://www.mgservices.ca