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Adding doors to open fridges and freezers – a simple way to save energy?

Supermarket fridges are a regular sight in our weekly shop, but use a lot of electricity. Estimates suggest they represent 1% of the entire electricity output of the United Kingdom.

The open design allows us to easily pick up our shopping, but equally allows cold air to escape, meaning the fridges effectively have to cool down the whole shop. Research suggests that changes to these cabinets could save as much as 40% of the electricity they use.

Tackling climate change requires improved efficiency of appliances and it is the responsibility of organisations to take steps to improve efficiency. Supermarkets are reluctant to make a change as they feel it could impact sales. Pressure is needed to introduce legislation so that all are forced to improve the efficiency of these appliances.


I see three potential benefits to improving fridge design:

  1. Improved energy efficiency reduces the amount of electricity required. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels

  2. Improved temperature regulation of fridges prolongs food shelf life and quality, with consequent reductions in food waste

  3. Could better temperature regulation in fridges reduce the need for single use plastic packaging which currently is needed to keep food fresh?

All of these benefits will help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels which is crucial to halt and reverse the effects of climate change.

Why I started a petition

I am a doctor working in the NHS in Sussex. In my job I use evidence on a daily basis to help patients make decisions about their health.

Once I realized how inefficient fridges are, I started a petition to encourage the government to ban open fridges and freezers in all retail outlets. This unfortunately closed early due to the general election but had gained 49,272 signatures.

Since starting the petition I have had the opportunity to visit fridge manufacturers and universities to learn more about the subject. I am now convinced that changes to fridge design are available that can improve the efficiency of open fridges by as much as 40%, whilst retaining the open fridge design. However, the supermarkets are reluctant to invest money in these technologies as it will involve a large initial cost.

I am a non-expert who has become interested in this subject and see potential for real good to be done through increased awareness of this subject.

My feeling is that increased pressure is needed on the supermarkets. They have a responsibility to protect the planet. If we do not act quickly, it may be lost forever.

All of us have a responsibility to make changes in our own lives and this is very important. But without assistance from major organizations like supermarkets these changes will have limited impact.

Consumers have huge power over supermarkets. We have seen this through the reduction in the use of plastic bags and in their efforts to reduce single use plastics. If enough pressure is applied to them, they will be forced to make a change.

What can we do to raise awareness?

  • Talk about the issue with friends

  • Raise it on social media

  • Write to supermarkets

  • Write to your local MP

About the guest writer - Jonathan Golding

I am a junior doctor in Sussex. I am currently a specialist trainee in Diabetes and Endocrinology. I am passionate about the environment and want to see urgent action to halt and reverse the effects of climate change.

Twitter: @GuyFridge

What did you think?

Feel free to leave your feedback on social media, or the comments below.

More stories from leading scientists can be read in NatureVolve digital magazine, subscribe here for free digital issues.

#climatechange #openairfridges #electricity #ukenergy #sustainability #geopolitics

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