Ten years ago, when I bought my house, I bought a new refrigerator to go with it.

It still works fine.

But time has progressed. Advances in energy efficiency have been made.

Today, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers  released new data based on 2007 shipments of major appliances, highlighting dramatic decreases in home appliance energy consumption since 2000.

Specifically: Refrigerators, dishwashers and clothes washers account for a 43 percent combined decrease in energy consumption since 2000. The association calculates that the energy savings realized in 2007 shipments would offset the carbon dioxide emissions of more than 698 million gallons of gasoline consumed or the annual carbon dioxide emissions from 1.3 coal-fired power plants.

Looking at refrigerators in particular, energy consumption has decreased 30 percent since 2000. The average refrigerator sold today consumes less energy than a 60-watt light bulb.
Yikes. So is it time to replace mine?

The government's Energy Star website has an appliance section that you could just about spend all day reading. I short-cutted to the refrigerator calculator. The overall prognosis: If your fridge is pre-'93, it's curtains for the thing.

Meanwhile, it sort of lets me off the hook, at least from a financial standpoint. If I can ever find the model number, I may be able to fine tune the calculation, but meanwhile it shows that my refrigerator's size, age class and type (freezer on top, fridge on bottom) costs $126 a year to run. A new one would cost only $60 — yikes!

But that's only a $330 savings over five years, which doesn't exactly cover the cost of a new one.

And I always worry about the waste of materials associated with retiring the old one, although they do contain about 65 percent steel, a hot item in the recycle market. (No, you're NOT supposed to just put it in the basement and load it up with beer. That's NOT an energy savings.)

So I guess I'll put off heading to the appliance store for now.

Maybe next year.