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Zoe Mak looks at a poll on household necessities and discovers that the refrigerator comes out on top

A recent Young Post Web poll of 170 readers about what home appliances they could not do without if they had to discard something to help save the planet found that most think they cannot live without their refrigerator. In fact, 71 per cent of readers said they could not do without their refrigerator.

The least indispensable item on the list was the washing machine, which only 25 per cent of readers thought was a necessity. All the same, it might be a good idea to check with your mother or your domestic helper before you ditch it in order to reduce the household carbon footprint.

Meanwhile, the air conditioner and the water heater came in a tie, with both scoring 37 per cent of the vote.

Young Post speaks to some readers about why they voted the way they did. Most of them say they cannot do without the refrigerator because it soft drinks cold during the summer.

Choi Hui-fung, 15, says: 'My dad hates warm beer and I hate warm soft drinks - they taste nasty! Summer is here and how can you live without the refrigerator?'

But Hui-fung's sister, Ting-wai, 17, says the water heater is more important than the refrigerator.

'We try to save energy sometimes by not turning on the air conditioner and the fan helps us survive in the heat, but it would be horrible to not have a nice shower after sweating before I go to bed,' she says. 'The refrigerator is important too, but I can always go to the convenience store to buy soft drinks and enjoy the free air-conditioning at the store.'

Ting-wai adds that a home water heater is irreplaceable because it would be tough to have to travel to a relative's house or to have to leave home for a shower.

But both agree that the least important appliance is the washing machine. 'We can always take our laundry down to the laundromat if we need to,' they say.

Matthew Sin Kar-wah, environmental affairs manager of Green Power, says air conditioners are the most energy-consuming home appliances.

'Thirty per cent of home electricity usage is spent on air conditioners. The compressor of the air conditioner, which cools down the temperature, is on for as long as the air conditioner is operating, and that is what consumes the energy,' he says.

'Refrigerators also have compressors too but they are only on when the temperature inside the refrigerator needs to be adjusted'.

Sin says by replacing the air conditioner with a fan four hours every day, you can reduce your household carbon emissions by 1,130kg in a year.

'Also try to let your clothes drip dry, because a clothes dryer consumes more energy than the washing machine,' he says.

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