November 22, 2007

[Prototype] The Nature Fridge

When I was a child growing up within the tropic of cancer, it was hard to comprehend how the common fridge kept food cool when it was so hot outside. Now that I'm older and living north of the 50th parallel, what really boggles my mind is how every single household uses energy to cool their food - in the winter - when the temperatures plummet to far below zero degrees Celsius! Is there any logic in this? In other words, we are using fossil fuels to heat up our houses, only to use more energy to keep our perishable food cold, thereby forcing us to store food in a tightly contained insulated cabinet which we run through electric current.

It doesn't take a cave man to realize that this... [click on link below to expand to full post] is insane.

So here's my prototype for a solution. And while I admit that I don't have the technical knowhow to physically build or power one of these things, I'm sure with our 21st century technology, it would be a cinch to create - provided there was a will amongst the people to harness natural power...

It's called "The Nature Fridge": New houses should be built with a special window-like section in the kitchen - behind where the fridge would be placed. But instead of window, this part of the wall would have a series of retractable vents/screens connecting the inside of the fridge and the great outdoors. There would be a thermometer on both sides - one in the fridge, and one outside. The real energy savings would come during the winter: A simple machine would retract some of the screens to use the cold winter air to cool the fridge naturally. Just think, on days when it dips to below zero (Celsius), you would not need to use any additional energy to cool your food, only the slight energy required to slide a few retractable screens up and down to maintain the right level of insulation.

Already, many houses have "cold rooms" which they use to store food in during the summer. These are basically dark rooms in a basement which harness the insulation of the Earth's surface to shield food from the summer heat.

Along with this, imagine the impact if every household also came with a small solar panel and a small wind generator on the roof - both hooked-up to the grid and - on the other end - energy storying batteries. Sure they would only generate a portion of each household's energy uses, especially at our current rates of consumption (which is something we desperately need to work on) - but imagine how much energy usage from the grid would diminish if every single household had some reserve energy produced from the natural furnaces that are the sun and the wind.

It just seems so easy, and yet, as a society we seem so stupid in our failure to adopt these kinds of simple steps in our homes. Meanwhile our CO2 emissions continue to destroy our planet while we idle (pun intended).