As I wait for the repair person to show up to service the old refrigerator in my garage we store bulk purchases of frozen food, milk (we go through just under a gallon a day), and beer (we go through slightly less than a gallon a day), I began to wonder how much exactly it cost to run this POS.
The first cost is just to keep it running. About once a year it breaks down. This doesn’t cost me too much: last time it was $75. There is a wonderful appliance guy in my area, Able Appliances (run by a father and son team) we’ve been using for years that is as trustworthy as they come. Every time you call they try to teach you about the appliance over the phone and have you check for problems so you can service it yourself. They act as if they really don’t want to take your money instead they want to give you fun projects. When I had more time, I would have loved to go down these rabbit holes but sadly, with a full time job and two kids to chase around these boondoggles are too much.
Judging from what the son thought was the issue this time, I would expect this repair to be similar in cost to the last repair so let’s guess $75.
Other than repair costs, there are the operating costs. Two primary factors drive the cost of a garage refrigerator:
- These are usually older models. A consumer might typically buy a new refrigerator for the kitchen and move their older, less efficient refrigerator to the garage. These older models can cost more to run.
- Regardless of where you live in the country, if you use air conditioning in your house (far from a sure thing if you’re a MMM reader), your garage is typically warmer than your kitchen. The refrigerator will have to work harder to maintain the larger temperature difference between the inside and outside of the appliance.
So what does all that cost?
Energystar.gov provides a nice calculator to estimate the annual costs to operate a refrigerator based upon the unit’s size, approximate year, and electricity rate in your area. And although they also have the option of comparing it to a newer model, they also seem to be equally stressing the cost savings associated with just dumping it. I found that refreshing since I assumed they would just be trying to convince you to upgrade.
According to their calculations, it would cost my unit about $76.49/year to run.
The calculator doesn’t make an adjustment for the garage temperature difference so tack on another 10% to bring our operating total to $84.14.
Now add on the yearly repair totals on and we get a total yearly expense to keep it running of $159.14.
“So convenient a thing to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.”
― Benjamin Franklin
So let’s find some reasons to enable this spending!!
The main justification for the fridge is that it allows me to buy in bulk. Texas is not a walking/or biking sized human environment. Before I have MMM lighting me up in a post, I realize it could be if I had time, in fact on the weekends I try to bike everywhere but it’s not convenient. To help reduce the number to car trips I to have to make, I try to maximize purchases when shopping at my #1 shopping location: Costco.
Costco milk is about $1/gallon cheaper than anywhere else in my area so when I go, I go big.
There is never less than 4 gallons of milk (usually 5) in my cart when we leave, which immediately go into my garage fridge. As I mentioned in the opening, with two small female humans living in my house, we do through close to a gallon per day. Just to be conservative, let’s say 0.75 gallons/day. Multiply that by 365 days in a year and we get 273.75 gallons of milk per year consumed. Saving $1/day, I’ve just justified the cost of fridge!
Boom. Drop the mike (or milk in this case), I’m out!
That was really simplistic, I realize. I’m sure I could get two gallons of milk in my main fridge and then we’re really only talking about the cost each week of making one more trip to Costco. That’s still 52 more trips each year! I hate shopping so I would pay $3/trip just to not have to go and instead ride by bike or spend time with my kids.
I think as my kids get older and outgrow living off milk and two or three staple foods, I could see getting rid of the fridge but not yet.
Verdict: Keeping the POS.