Q&A OF THE WEEK: “Is It Okay to Use a Freezer in an Unheated Porch?”

Q: Is it okay to keep my 15 year-old freezer working in an uninsulated, closed-in porch during winter? I know some people keep freezers in garages without any difficulty,  but I’m concerned the motor might seize in cold winter temperatures. The “right” answer could help me win a bet with my husband.

A: Like you, I’ve seen lots of people keep freezers in unheated areas for decades without any trouble. Besides freeing up indoor space, the practice also saves electricity. The compressor on your freezer won’t come on very often during winter – maybe never when it gets really cold outside. But the official word from appliance experts say using a freezer in cold spaces isn’t a good idea. Apparently, low temperatures can thicken the oil  and refrigerant in compressors, possibly preventing proper lubrication and freedom of rotation, especially as they start up. The operative word here is “possibly”. I’ve never actually heard of anyone ruining their freezer because it was used in an unheated space. You might want to risk it with a 15-year old freezer to say space and reduce electricity bills. I’d probably do it even with a new freezer that I keep my eye on. But if power savings is your main motivation, you should try something first.

Just how much does it really cost you to keep that freezer running indoors? I use a device called a Kill-a-Watt to measure the power consumption of 120 volt, plug-in appliances. You plug the Kill-a-Watt into an outlet, then the appliance into the Kill-a-Watt. You can pre-program the unit with the electricity rate you pay in your area, then leave it alone for a while. The Kill-a-Watt screen tells you the total cost of power used since it was last reset (as well as a few other things such as voltage from the outlet and total kilowatt hours consumed). You might not actually be using that much power to keep your freezer cold. It’s easy to get worried about electricity bills, but it can also be surprising how little some things cost to operate when you have the numbers.

Want to learn more ways to boost the energy efficiency of your home? Click here for tips that really make a difference.

 

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Posted on November 23rd, 2017

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