GI Joins Refrigerator, Freezer Recycling Program

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

The City of Grand Island is one of the latest municipal utilities to join a refrigerator recycling program. One incentive for participating - customers get paid to do so.

Utilities Director Tim Luchsinger says the ENERGYsmart refrigerator recycling program is hassle free for Grand Islanders wanting to get rid of an old fridge or freezer.

He says as long as it still works, the recycling company will not only pick up the fridge or freezer, but pay the customer $35 too.

"The refrigerators and freezers are being disposed of properly - they're not being left in a ditch somewhere and that they're having the hazardous materials taken out of it," says Luchsinger.

"It's actually sent to a factory and everything is taken out," explains Phil Euler, NMPP Energy Manager of Engineering Services. "Over 99% of the materials are recycled, everything from of course metal, glass, the refrigerant, the oils, the plastic."

Since refrigerators and freezers can be hard to get rid of, it can be tempting to just drag that old one out to the garage, but officials say that's not a great idea either.

"Unfortunately the refrigerators they tend to stick in the garage, they're not as efficient and then you're putting them in your garage that's hot during the summer, and it's just a bad place to put one, so people really can save energy by getting rid of those things," says Luchsinger.

Luchsinger says some studies estimate that with a new fridge or freezer a customer can save $125 a year on their electric bill, but it also adds up to savings for utilities too.

"That refrigerator is almost guaranteed to be running at the time of our system peaks, and so that's why the utilities are interested in getting those refrigerators removed, because we're going to see that peak load reduction," says Euler.

The program continues throughout 2012, and officials hope more grant money will keep it going next year too.

Luchsinger says they estimate that three-quarters of Nebraska customers are eligible for the program.

Contact your local energy provider to find out if they're a part of the program too.

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