Refrigerators are notorious for guzzling electricity: they’re big, they’re on all the time and they’re used every day. Oddly enough, they’re also one of the appliances to which people become particularly attached and thus reluctant to replace. However, if you’re looking to make savings on your power bills, the refrigerator is right up at the top of the checklist.Old Refrigerators Are Inefficient
Old refrigerators are particularly bad for power efficiency. If you bought your current model this century (i.e. after the year 2000) you should be fine, but if you have an older appliance it’s probably worth upgrading.
Replacing a refrigerator that’s been in your home since you were a synthpop fan in the 1980s can save you over $100 a year in electricity. Dumping your disco-friendly 1970s model could double that amount. In fact, the savings from upgrading an old model can be so significant that Energy Star has a calculator on their web site to encourage you to upgrade and recycle your clunky appliance.
So What Should You Look for When You’re Buying a New Refrigerator?
Start by eliminating side-by-side models unless your home’s layout dictates otherwise. Top-down models, with the fridge above or below the freezer, are as much as 30% more efficient than their low-rise counterparts. You can check that by looking for and reading the Energy Star label which, of course, should be present on any model you consider.
Although you might not expect it, in the refrigerator world “bigger is better”: unless you’re looking at models with over 25 cubic feet of storage, buying a larger-capacity appliance generally works out more efficient. Micro-fridges may look very cool but they consume far more electricity for the space they offer.
If you really need a huge refrigerator and you’re not just filling space with stuff you’ll never eat, the models over 25 cubic feet do work out more efficient than buying two normal-sized appliances.
Avoid The “Extras”
Finally, you should avoid all the extras unless they’re very important for you and your family. Cold water dispensers, ice-cube makers, juice dispensers and odd-shaped designs are great amenities but they’ll often cost you more money than the same thing done old-style. Put bottles of water and juice in the fridge and make your own ice cubes: it doesn’t need that much more effort and it’ll save power!