What would it take to put your refrigerator — an inherently energy-hungry beast — on a permanent kilowatt diet? A little out of the box thinking, that’s all.

An Australian man has come up with a conversion plan that turns an ordinary chest freezer, like you might buy at Sears, into a chest refrigerator he claims consumes 0.1 kilowatt hours a day. Essentially, opening a box from the top saves power because cold air stays inside, rather than falling out onto the floor while you noodle around with the condiments. But our stalwart experimenter goes one further, installing an after-market thermostat that turns on the unit only a few minutes an hour, to maintain temperature. Some other guys have created an entire visual tutorial on this, if you want to see the guts of the process.

If a box on the floor isn’t in your design plans, you might consider an upright model from California’s SunFrost. The company custom manufactures appliances for use in solar homes, so you know they scrimp on every kilowatt. They claim 80% savings over normal refrigerators in part on design factors like insulation and separation of the freezer and ‘fridge compartments.

An under-counter ‘fridge is a power saver, too, presuming you can deal with 7.75 cubic feet of space or less, just because it’s smaller. Of course, there are also plenty of highly efficient production refrigerators already on the market. Take a look at the breakdown by model at the Energy Star page on refrigerators.

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