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20 years

Have an older fridge? Government will subsidize your purchase of a new one


January 15th, 2013 ( Costa Rica residents who have a refrigerator that is more than 5 years old will soon be able to exchange it for a new, more energy-efficient model with up to a 25% discount on the price of the new unit if they turn in their existing refrigerator, as part of a government-funded program.


The Minister of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (Minaet, in Spanish) will resume its refrigerator replacement program this year, which carries an approximate cost of $9.5 million.


The objective is to decrease the consumption of electricity in the country and comply with the goal signed in the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty signed by 187 countries, including Costa Rica. The agreement sets goals to decrease the emissions of greenhouse gases.


As part of those goals, Costa Rica eliminated Hydroflourocarbon (CFC) gases in 2010, present in many aerosols.


Now, the objective is to eliminate the refrigerant hydrofluorocarbons (HCFC), which are no longer used in newer refrigerators, though remain in many older refrigerators in the country.


The replacement program was first attempted in 2008, but failed, as the government had no methods of safely disposing of the older units that were exchanged.


This time around, the government has already negotiated with several suppliers for the proper disposal of the old refrigerators.


Under the plan, exchanging your old fridge should be a pretty straightforward process.  Once the agreements with retailers have been finalized, the consumer will simply take their old unit to the retailer, select a new unit which best meets their needs, and receive the exchange credit on the new unit.


Grupo Monge and Gollo appliance stores have both agreed to participate in the program, and have already held meetings with the Ministry regarding the logistical details.


The old refrigerators, and their refrigerant gases, will be properly disposed of in a way authorized by the Ministry of Health.


The new efficient refrigerators, which qualify for the 6% to 25% subsidy based on size and type, will be identified with a seal provided by the Institute of Technical Norms of Costa Rica (Inteco, in Spanish).


The subsidy, awareness campaign and logistics will carry a cost of $9.5 million, of which ICE (Costa Rican Electricity Institute) will cover $2 million.


Rene Castro, Minister of Environment, said that in the long run the program would save the country money as the newer refrigerators consume less energy.


According to estimates, 300,000 refrigerators would be exchanged per year, for a period of 4 years. After 4 years, the exchange would be voluntary, without receiving the subsidy.


The program would produce a savings of $2.68 million to $7.05 million in energy production, and reduce the country’s carbon dioxide output by 5,437 tons, according to those involved.


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