In my research, over the past weeks and months, I have been trying to find ways of conserving and reducing energy consumption. This will be vital on the Croft, as all the power comes from self-generated, renewable sources (Wind Turbine, Solar Panels and a Pelton Hydro wheel in the stream).
One interesting way of doing this, which I may implement, is to make a normal chest freezer into a fridge. But why would anyone want to do that?
Firstly, cold air drops; so in a conventional upright fridge, when the door is opened, all the cold air drops down and flows out of the open door. This, of course, means that it has to work harder to get back to temperature, once the door is shut again, and would give anyone cold feet about grabbing that last chocolate-mousse-yoghurt-thing. On a chest freezer, as the door is on top and opens upwards, all the cold air stays in the bottom of it - a cold bottom is preferable in this instance...
Secondly, a fridge has less insulation - you've seen how much thicker the walls of a chest freezer are, compared to a fridge, right? This, in turn, means the freezer has to use less electricity to stay at temperature and also (if there is a power loss) it stays colder for longer. From what I have read (so forgive me if its inaccurate), this can reduce electricity consumption from around 1kWh a day, for a modern upright fridge, down to 0.1kWh a day, for a chest freezer used as a fridge. A tenth of the energy used, and enough 'spare' energy to watch Arctic with Bruce Parry many times.
Now, you can't just say "OK, I'll start using the chest freezer as a fridge then", as all of your soft cheese would freeze. You have to find a way to keep the freezer at a constant, warmer, fridge-like temperature. How? Well, I've found a brilliant little Digital Temperature Controller Thermostat, on Amazon (not with Bruce Parry this time), which you plug in between the freezer and its wall socket. It then has a sensor running into the freezer and - once you have set the temperature you desire - will automatically turn the freezer on and off, to keep the set temperature constant.
Downsides? You need arms like Mr Tickle, to get things from the bottom and things have to be stacked up on top of each other somewhat. Also, you have to bear in mind that there needs to be a space behind it, for the door to open and you can't put stuff on top of it, like a fridge.
Small things, that are outweighed - in our circumstances - if it decides to be cloudy, still and there's been no rain for a couple of days. And as long as you can still put daft little magnets on there, or to-do lists that don't get done, I'll be happy!