A Retro Look into Saving Energy

Pop-Up Museum

Boston Pop-Up Museum

By: Kristen Pomer and Laurie Acone

If you think back to the refrigerator that your family had in your childhood, it probably looked a lot different than the one in your home today. Think back to the refrigerator that your grandparents had, and the difference is probably as stark as night and day. With the image of those old refrigerators in mind, our companies, NSTAR and National Grid, recently teamed up on a unique event to encourage Massachusetts residents to recycle old, second refrigerators and freezers.

In a first for the City of Boston, we joined forces to present a vintage refrigerator “Pop-Up Museum,” in Dewey Square Park – a “cool” mobile display that featured retro refrigerators and freezers. Our museum enticed visitors to reminisce about the fridges they recall from childhood—or remember from old family photos and retro TV shows—and provided facts about the amount of energy these old appliances consume and how much they cost to operate. The fact is, older units can use as much as four times more electricity than newer, more efficient models.

In addition to the refrigerator display, we drew in hundreds of people with an on-site radio presence from WZLX 100.7, an educational booth which provided our customers giveaways and program information, and a fun scavenger hunt. Visitors were challenged to track down the answers to trivia questions about the vintage fridges on display. Winners were then drawn randomly to receive prizes including $50 home improvement gift cards.

Many people do not know that operating an outdated fridge or freezer comes with a steep price tag, and these devices can also leak toxins when dumped in landfills. This recycling program is a great opportunity for customers to save space, save money and help save the environment.

National appliance recycler, JACO Environmental, picks up old, second refrigerators and freezers free of charge at participants’ homes. The outdated appliances are sent to a de-manufacturing facility, where toxins such as mercury and oils that can poison the environment are safely extracted. During the process, JACO converts 95 percent of each appliance into recyclable metals, glass and plastics.

For those of us at NSTAR and National Grid, this program is perfect for anyone looking to reduce their household energy costs. Just unplugging an outdated refrigerator saves money. Combine that with a $50 reward and free pickup, and the benefits outweigh the convenience of having extra cold storage. We hope that by bringing this tangible display to consumers and showing them how to reduce costs while saving energy, they will be inspired to participate in the program.

This appliance recycling program is offered to Massachusetts residential electric customers of NSTAR, National Grid, Western Massachusetts Electric Co., Unitil and Cape Light Compact. For more information on responsible appliance disposal, check out the Responsible Appliance Disposal program at: EPA.gov. Before you buy a new refrigerator, don’t forget to look for the ENERGY STAR.

Click here to watch a video recap of the event.

Kristen Pomer is a Program Manager of energy efficiency programs at NSTAR Electric & Gas.  Ms. Pomer is responsible for all aspects of implementation planning, marketing, delivery, customer service, and vendor management of NSTAR’s Lighting and Appliance programs.

Laurie Acone is Program Manager of Residential Lighting and ENERGY STAR Products at National Grid in MA and RI. Ms. Acone joined National Grid in 2007 as a Call Center Supervisor in the Customer Organization, and has been part of Energy Efficiency at National Grid since 2008.

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