AUGUSTA — Efficiency Maine has initiated a new program that encourages Mainers using older, extra refrigerators or freezers to recycle: The program will pick up the unit for free and offer a $50 rebate.

Older refrigerators and freezers can require as much as four times more electricity to operate than newer models built to higher energy efficiency standards, according to the program. That inefficiency results in as much as $250 a year in unnecessary electricity costs for the customer, and also drives up the price that all Mainers pay to operate the grid. This is money that can be saved if customers have that older unit picked up and recycled.

Another benefit of the program is that it ensures proper disposal of old refrigerators and freezers, which can leak mercury and other toxins into the environment when discarded improperly. The program hauls appliances to an EPA-approved facility to be broken down. The process returns up to 95 percent of the appliances’ components to the manufacturing stream to become any number of new products, from mobile phones to construction rebar.

For more information, call 1-866-376-2463 or visit Efficiency Maine online at to schedule a free pickup while funding for the program lasts.

Taking advantage of the Efficiency Maine offer does not require buying a new refrigerator or freezer. Appliances scheduled for pickup must be in working order, clean and empty, with an inside measurement of between 10 and 30 cubic feet — standard size for refrigerators and freezers. Dorm or “mini” sized refrigerators will not be accepted.