Sunday, 18 January 2009

Dumb questions about being Eco-friendly & Green (4)

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Q7: When and how is the most energy efficient way to defrost fridge-freezer? Is a self-defrosting fridge more eco-friendly?
A: The frost in a freezer forms when warm air condenses and freezes on the cooling coils. Self-defrosting fridges generally use more energy than manual models because their coils are automatically heated every few hours to melt any frost that has formed on the coils. But a manual defrosting fridge is only better if you defrost it before the frost starts to take over. This is because the coils have to now work harder to cool the air if they are covered by ice. How often do you need to defrost depends upon how often you open the door and the humidity of the air. As a rule of thumb, you should defrost when the ice gets to 5 mm thick. The best way to do this is to turn off the freezer, put pans of hot water inside to speed up melting, and then remove big bits of ice with a plastic scraper. This would ensure that less energy is consumed during defrosting.

Q8: Can I save my beautiful planet by staying slim?

A: It is unlikely to benefit the planet much. In May 2008, Phil Edwards and Ian Roberts of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine did link obesity and global warming. They argued that obese people consume around 18% more calories than the average and their greater mass means their vehicles require more fuel. So policies to encourage walking and cycling would not only improve people's health but also be good for the planet. Perhaps such policies would provide short-term benefits but in the long term they would be more than offset by the fact that people in shape are likely stay longer than obese and thus emitting tonnes of CO2 for the extra years they live. So being slim may be good for you but it is unlikely to be equally good for the planet.

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