News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 24, 2012

Make money recycling your fridge

Power companies behind ‘energy efficiency’ effort

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star


Those out-of-date refrigerators and freezers in basements or garages put a big strain on electrical power grids, especially during peak usage hours.

Duke Energy, along with several utilities statewide such as Vectren Energy Delivery and Wabash Valley Power Association, are offering customers a free pick-up and removal of those old appliances. Plus, customers will be paid $30.

Refrigerators and standalone freezers must be in working condition and measure between 10 and 30 cubic feet in size. Participants will receive $30 incentive checks within four to six weeks after appliance pickup.

The utilities have partnered with JACO Environmental, a national appliance recycler, to pick up the old units and “demanufacture” them at a new Indianapolis facility.

October is National Energy Action Month, and officials with Duke Energy and JACO Environmental made a stopover Tuesday in Terre Haute to talk about the program, launched in June.

Angeline Protogere, Duke Energy spokeswoman, said “the entire idea is energy efficiency. I think many people don’t realize just how much energy that an old [refrigerator or freezer] unit does consume. This is a way of taking it off of the [power] grid and helping us save energy and helping the consumer save energy and money.”

A consumer can save up to $150 a year in energy savings by removing the old appliance and not replacing it. A 20-year old refrigerator or freezer can consume two to four times more energy annually than new energy-efficient models, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Those older refrigerators use about 1,500-kilowatts hours annually per refrigerator and 1,200-kilowatt hours annually per freezer, said John D. Langston, market strategist for product management at Duke Energy. Modern appliances use about 60 percent less energy than 20-year-old models.

Since the launch of the recycle program on June 5, Duke Energy has recycled 1,600 refrigerators and 200 freezers in Indiana, Langston said, “and we have appointments for 200 additional pickups.” The company is conducting the program in five states. Duke Energy will continue the program for five years, with a goal of recycling 29,000 refrigerators and about 4,800 freezers in Indiana, Langston said.

JACO Environmental has contracts with more than 60 utilities in 28 states for recycling appliances. Justin Rainer, program manager with JACO Environmental, said 95 percent of materials in refrigerators and freezers can be recycled.

Among the 5 percent of materials that are not recyclable include the refrigerator door gasket, which contains magnets, Rainer said, and also fiberglass insulation in the door. Those materials will go to landfills.

Household refrigerators and freezers manufactured before 1995 typically contain chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerant, which has to be removed, and those made before 2005 are insulated with foam that contains the refrigerant. CFCs, if emitted, contribute to ozone depletion and climate change.

A refrigerator contains 10 pounds of the foam insulation which typically contains 1 pound of CFC, Rainer said.

Mineral oil in compressors can be recycled along with tempered-glass shelves, which are ground up and used as an aggregate in concrete. Insulated copper wire, aluminum and steel can be recycled. Some of the metal is used to produce rebar, used in construction. “We always joke that you might be driving over your refrigerator one day,” Rainer said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or


• Indiana residents interested in participating in the program to recycle refrigerators or standalone freezers in working condition can call for pickup.

• Wabash Valley residents should call Duke Energy at 855-398-6200; Vectren Energy Delivery at 866-240-8476; or Wabash Valley Power Association at 877-395-5535.

Other utilities and contact information include:

Hoosier Energy: 877-395-5535

Indiana Michigan Power: 877-395-5535

Indianapolis Power & Light Co.: 877-395-5535