Barely 100 years ago, ice was cut from glaciers to be sold in cities like Munich. The affluent were thus able to cool food (or beer!) during summer. The ice was put into sort of a closet, and the old-fashioned German word "Eisschrank" (ice cabinet) for fridge nicely describes the original mode of operation.
We're better off these days. Everyone has a fridge at home. Just plug it in and off you go. As fridges need to remain cool all time, they consume a considerable amount of energy, which gives me another chance to cut down on my carbon dioxide emissions.
I had a small fridge with a freezing compartment in my kitchen which was left over when my parents remodelled their home years ago. I just recently learned that this unit must be approximately 30 years old. It was still running, but not very efficiently. During summer you'd notice a stream of hot air coming from the heat exchanger, and it was running almost continuously in hot weather. I went shopping for a new, energy-efficient unit and purchased a comparable unit. According to the specs this one uses 172kWh per year. Cheaper units of the same size use up to 250kWh per year.
My old unit was probably a little worse than that when it was new. Let's assume that it used 350kWh per year because it was worn out after 30 years. Replacing the unit will thus reduce my energy consumption by approximately 180kWh per year. This amounts to saving EUR 29.00 (USD 37.00) per year. Buying the new unit will thus pay off within 8 years. Using my current tariff, I'll prevent 41 kg of carbon dioxide emissions as well as 90 mg of radioactive waste each year. Needless to say, the new fridge looks better and is a lot cleaner (duh!).