For a long time, one of my “To-Do” things in homebrewing has been to control my fermentation temperatures without breaking the bank.
My electricity bill is already high and the thought of adding another electrical appliance kind of scares me. Currently, my temperature control system includes water baths and ice. Although it does work pretty well, it's a lot of work, takes constant monitoring and does not allow me to brew during the hotter parts of the year.
One thought that came to mind was my old fridge in the garage. I use it now for my kegerator and bottle storage, but now I want to use it to cool my fermentation chamber. The 20+ year old unit works awesome, but I have always wondered how much it really is costing me to run. So before taking on this new project, I really wanted to find out if the dollars made sense.
The device is simple to use, just plug it in and plug your appliance into it. It also has a feature that allows you to adjust the electricity costs depending on your local rates. I could not wait to plug it in and be blown away by how much my extra fridge was really costing me…WRONG!!!
After programming in my local power rates and allowing the unit calculate the power draw for a few days during 85+ degree days, the monthly cost came to around $3.50. Although the cost might be higher than a new unit, the up-front cost to buy a new unit would be at minimum $200 & would take over 4 years of higher electrical cost just to break even. With this knowledge at hand, I feel a lot better about using the old fridge as the cooling unit for my fermentation chamber.
Now knowing how much it is costing me to run the unit, both before and after the conversion, the project will begin. Stay tuned, in the coming weeks I will post my progress (successes & failures) as I build it out.