A Blast from Our Past: Doubling of Electric Bills

Sometimes reading historical documents is like visiting Bizarro World. Consider where our industry was in 1927, as reported by The Electric Refrigeration News in its one-year anniversary issue, Oct. 11, 1927.

“Push Sales and Give Service, Say Utility Men,” reported the fledgling predecessor of The NEWS. According to a small survey’s respondents, “it is the utility companies’ duty to handle the merchandising … of electric refrigerators in most communities.”

Electric refrigerators were the appliances that followed ice boxes in the early 20th century. They were heavily promoted by early utility companies to help them grow their loads. Compare these attitudes to today’s - now utilities work hard to keep the load lower, or at least not to have it be a heavily peaking load.

The 24 men surveyed generally agreed that while the sale of electric refrigerators did not pay the percentage of profit that they felt they should have been receiving, “yet the current load which these machines build up is highly desirable.”

They predicted that with this new appliance, a small home’s electric bill would roughly double, and in a commercial setting it could triple.

Most utility companies said they felt the service aspects - fixtures, hardware, and furniture - would be better handled by the dealer.

According to one dealer, “Apparently the manufacturers of electric refrigerators feel that the electric service company can afford to sell electric refrigerators at a loss because of the revenue features of the load.”

Another dealer said the power companies should accept the responsibility “for supplying the service needs of the customer.”

The NEWS is turning 85 next year - come celebrate with us! For more information, contact publisher John Conrad at

Publication date: 11/22/2010

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