Rosa Cordero, who is diabetic, remembers a time when she couldn’t store her insulin safely. Her refrigerator was old and unreliable, and she never knew if the temperature was cool enough to store the drug.
Not only was the fridge imperilling her insulin supplies, it was also causing her food to rot, driving up her electricity bills, and hurting the environment. Cordero, who lives in Santiago, the capital of Chile, does not have a lot of money to spend on appliances. But thanks to United for Efficiency (U4E), a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)-led initiative backed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), she was able to secure a new, energy-efficient refrigerator.
“It gives me so much joy to have a new fridge. I’ve never had a new one before; now I can keep my insulin fresh,” said Cordero, who added the fridge costs about US$7 a month to operate, down from US$30 for her old one.
In 2018, U4E established a programme in Chile, with support from Fundación Chile, the Ministry of Energy and private companies such as Hisense, Samsung and Whirlpool, to help consumers access new, energy-efficient refrigerators.
Annually the project aims to save over 1.3 terawatt hours of electricity, avoiding the need to build three power plants of 100 megawatts each. Newer refrigerators and freezers will save over 600,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, the equivalent emissions from more than 340,000 cars. They will save Chilean consumers more than US$294 million in electricity costs every year. “U4E aims to make energy efficient, environmentally friendly refrigerators available to all,” said Paul Kellett, U4E’s global programme manager. “Cost shouldn’t be an inhibitor to an energy efficient-product.”
The problem of energy-inefficient refrigerators in Chile is acute, according to U4E. There are over 6.8 million domestic refrigerators and freezers in Chile, with almost 100 per cent of households owning one. More than 1 million of these are at least 15 years old. The Ministry of Energy in Chile estimates that 19 per cent of all household electricity used comes from refrigerators. There is hope the lessons learned in Chile can help other nations saddled with inefficient, polluting appliances. “Many countries can benefit from old appliance replacement programmes like Chile have successfully implemented here,” said Kellett.
United for Energy Efficiency (U4E) is a global effort supporting developing countries and emerging economies to move their markets to energy-efficient appliances and equipment. Under the leadership of UNEP, U4E brings together all key stakeholders in the area of product efficiency to inform policymakers, promote global best practices and provide tailored assistance to governments.
Learn more about U4E work here and UNEP’s work with the GEF on Climate Change Mitigation here.
Source: UN Environment Programme