Working with our environment: an introduction
Working with our environment: an introduction

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Working with our environment: an introduction

4 Case study 2: Refrigerators and climate change

4.1 Domestic appliances and fossil fuels

For this second case study I shall look specifically at the energy use of domestic 'cold appliances', that is freezers and refrigerators, and discuss whether efficiency measures can play a significant role in reducing their energy consumption. The reason for this is quite simple. For many years there has been well-documented evidence of the damage to the environment and cost to human life associated with the extraction, transport and consumption of fossil fuels such as coal and oil, from smogs to acid rain, mining fatalities to oil spills, and from time to time there have been concerns about the security of fuel supplies: would they run out? or would they fall into the hands of unstable regimes? Over the last 20 years another issue has gained prominence: the likelihood that the carbon dioxide emitted when we burn fossil fuels is now reaching the atmosphere in such large quantities that it is changing our very climate.

To set the scene I'll start with an account from several decades ago, when domestic refrigerator design in the United States could apparently afford to ignore such considerations.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371