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Business: Residential

Switching for Efficiency in the Yukon: The Fridge Exchange

Major appliances account for a significant portion of a home's energy use. Refrigerators in particular are significant because they run all the time. A unique initiative based in Canada's Yukon Territory is tackling the replacement of older, inefficient refrig-erators by offering incentives to encourage switching to energy-efficient models. In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by diesel-electric generation, the Yukon Development Corporation offers residents of the Yukon's diesel communities a $200 rebate to program applicants who purchase an ENERGY STAR qualified, high-efficiency refrigerator and turn in their old working refrigerator.


The international ENERGY STAR symbol is a simple way for consumers to identify products that are among the most energy-efficient on the market. Only manufacturers and retailers whose products meet the ENERGY STAR criteria can label their products with this symbol. In Canada, Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency administers and promotes the international ENERGY STAR symbol for a wide range of energy-using products sold in Canada.

Look for the ENERGY STAR symbol on product packaging, in product literature and advertising and on products themselves. Ask your local retailer to help you identify products that qualify for the ENERGY STAR symbol so you can begin saving energy and money. For more information, visit the ENERGY STAR Web site at .

How the Fridge Exchange Works

The Fridge Exchange Program includes full-circle responsibility from purchase incentives to appropriate waste management. The program covers the cost of delivering the new refrigerator and the removal of the old fridge, addressing a significant economic barrier for remote communities. To be eligible, the old appliance must be at least 10 years old and in working condition. Residents of the Yukon's hydroelectric communities are also eligible to participate in the program and receive all the associated benefits with the exception of the rebate.

Partnerships Involved

In terms of local partnerships, all local appliance retailers are participating in the Fridge Exchange Program. Several Yukon government departments (Housing, Environment and Property Management) have provided financial and in-kind support. Natural Resources Canada and the Yukon Development Corporation provide the main financial support for this project.


The 2003 Fridge Exchange enjoys 100 percent local retailer participation.

Several First Nations housing departments have expressed interest in the possibility of procuring ENERGY STAR qualified appliances for band housing. The local housing authority is exploring the potential for bulk procurement of ENERGY STAR qualified fridges.


As well as reducing the demand on the power supply system, the Fridge Exchange Program helps Yukoners save money and reduce personal greenhouse gas emissions. With a new ENERGY STAR qualified fridge, savings can be up to $145 per year for a residential electricity bill. There is also free delivery of the ENERGY STAR qualified fridge and removal of the old fridge. The program also strives to increase local availability of ENERGY STAR qualified refriger-ators that in turn will reduce the demand on Yukon's hydroelectric grid.

Refrigerator Repairman

Freon is safely removed from all old fridges before shipping.

The Yukon Development Corporation ensures proper handling by removing the refrigerant and recycling the steel from all old units collected under the program. Part of the program evaluation will include an estimation of the amount of refrigerant collected and the amount of steel recycled.

In addition, the Centre also delivers community workshops linking energy efficiency, EnerGuide and ENERGY STAR to savings and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. The program also rewards retailers for sales of ENERGY STAR qualified refrigerators by offering a $20 incentive to the salesperson for each unit sold. The incentive also applies to ENERGY STAR qualified clothes washers and dishwashers.


ENERGY STAR qualified models generally cost more than less-efficient models. This poses an economic barrier. A key to this challenge involves making people aware of the longer-term benefits and savings of an ENERGY STAR qualified appliance. There has also been lower than anticipated participation in the program from remote communities, which are typically less affluent than Whitehorse. Also, the range of ENERGY STAR products, while on the rise across Canada, is not available in a full complement of sizes and other features desirable to Yukon households. This underlines the importance of retailers working closely with manufacturers and suppliers to determine the latest ENERGY STAR qualified models available that will meet their customers' needs.

The program has been well received by com-munities across the Yukon. In the first year of the program, over 75 Yukon fridges were exchanged. All Yukon appliance retailers are participants in the program. Original estimates of greenhouse gas reductions appear to have been conservative. Present calculations indicate that the average Yukon household participating in the Fridge Exchange will save three quarters of a tonne of greenhouse gases per year. The program began in March 2002 and has been extended to March 2004. The 2003 Fridge Exchange will concentrate on opportunities to increase energy efficiency through green procurement and through joint promotion of energy-efficient appliances with local retailers.

Fridge Exchange Program
Janne Hicklin, Energy Solutions Centre
206A Lowe St., 1st Floor
Whitehorse YT Y1A 1W6
Tel.: (867) 393-7063
Fax: (867) 393-7061
E-mail :

ENERGY STAR High Efficiency Symbol

For more information on ENERGY STAR®, contact Natural Resources Canada's Office of  Energy Efficiency: Gisèle Maillet, (613) 992-4535 or by e-mail

For tips on energy-efficient products, visit the ENERGY STAR Web site at or the Web site of Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency at

To obtain additional copies of this or other free publications on energy efficiency, please contact

Energy Publications
Office of Energy Efficiency
Natural Resources Canada
c/o S.J.D.S.
Ottawa ON K1A 1L3
Tel.: 1 800 387-2000 (toll-free)
        995-2943 (in the National Capital Region)
Fax: (613) 740-3114

Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency administers and promotes the international ENERGY STAR symbol in Canada.