I’m the kind of person who keeps things long past their useful life. I wear holes in all of my clothing, spend futile minutes trying to squeeze toothpaste out of an empty tube, and keep my old mobile phone even though the screen is cracked and it can only hold a charge for half an hour. These habits can be really inefficient. It takes a ton of work to keep my old stuff functioning. I’d be better off financially and have more time if I’d just move on and buy some new stuff.

Stock image of old flip-flop sandals

People like me need a bit of a nudge when it comes to purchasing new energy-efficient appliances. Even if I could potentially save big bucks on energy in the long run, it’s hard for me to pull the trigger as long as that fridge is still keeping the food cold. Historically, utilities have done a great job providing that nudge by offering recycling and rebate programs for appliances, and consumers have really saved energy and money. In recent years, however, these programs have struggled because of a slow-down in technological advancement and high saturation levels of efficient refrigerators. In the past four years alone, the average cost per kilowatt-hour saved has increased by more than 100 percent, forcing many utilities to give their appliance rebate and recycling programs the old heave-ho.

So should you end your refrigerator-recycling program and focus on other demand-side management (DSM) strategies? Of course not! With a little innovation, you can make your program cost-effective again.

You might not realize, for example, that around 10 percent of all refrigerators in operation in the US—more than 20 million individual units—are old, underutilized, secondary fridges that are sitting around gathering dust in basements and garages. That’s 20 million potential sources of energy savings. How can this information help you with the cost-effectiveness of your refrigerator-recycling program, you might ask? Dealing with these secondary-market fridges is a great start because they’re almost always older and less efficient than their primary counterparts, but there’s much more to it than that. Learn all about it in the new E Source report, Maintaining a Cost-Effective Refrigerator-Recycling Program in Challenging Times, available to members of the E Source Demand-Side Management Service.

Whether you’re worried about the future feasibility of your old appliance-recycling program or looking to start a new one, this report can provide the know-how you need to make that program efficient and effective. So get recycling, and don’t forget to join us at the 2016 E Source Forum to discuss this and other pressing DSM topics!