Refrigerator & Freezer Savings
An Appliance with an Appetite
Your refrigerator typically uses the most energy of any appliance in your home if you consider it runs 24 hours, 7 days a week. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, there are 126 million refrigerators and 38 million freezers using 200 billion kilowatt hours a year. Fortunately, refrigeration offers a considerable opportunity for energy and monetary savings. Utilities and government agencies offer several incentives for recycling old refrigerators and freezers and buying energy-efficient models.
Fresh & New: Benefits of Upgrading
A new refrigerator can be a major investment, but it may save you a lot of money on monthly utility bills, even if your old refrigerator is running just fine. That’s because new refrigerators use about 50% less energy than ones from just 10 to 20 years ago, and can save significantly more when compared to even older models.2
A new top-freezer refrigerator uses over 68% less energy than a 20-year-old top-freezer model.3 According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you can save on average $77 per year on your energy bill by replacing a refrigerator from 2000, and on average over $149 per year by replacing one from 1990. Considering your new refrigerator can keep food cold for the next 15 to 20 years, it can more than pay for itself in energy bill savings over its lifetime!
A new refrigerator’s energy usage varies based on the size, style, and features you choose. The most efficient models are between 16 and 20 cubic feet.4 Refrigerators larger than 25 cubic feet use more energy than smaller models, so you may want to downsize your refrigerator if you find it is not often full; however, although larger models use more energy, one large refrigerator still uses much less energy than two smaller refrigerators. When you get your new refrigerator, recycle your old model and don’t keep it in the garage for overflow use. Your new, efficient model will only add to your energy load if you continue using your old refrigerator!
Although new refrigerators can offer significant energy savings, replacing your refrigerator may not be the most effective option for you. Major innovations were applied to refrigerators after 1993, so energy savings are largest when replacing a refrigerator purchased before then.5 If your refrigerator is fairly new, it may be more cost effective to weatherize your house or upgrade lighting. If replacement is not right for you, there are other things you can do to reduce the energy use of your current fridge.
Find More Info
- American Council for Energy Efficient Economy
- California Energy Commission
- Energy Guide Home Analyzer & Energy Calculators
- Home Energy Advisor
- U.S. DOE Energy Savers
- CNET Appliances
- ENERGY STAR® Refrigerator Retirement Calculator
Places to Buy
Content in part adapted with permission from Rocky Mountain Institute’s Home Energy Briefs.
Before you shop for efficiency upgrades, visit the Refrigerator & Freezer Buyer’s Guide for easy facts and figures that can help you choose the best materials for your home, needs and budget.
1 ACEEE (American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy). (2011). Refrigeration. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://www.aceee.org/consumer/refrigeration
2 ACEEE (American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy). (2011). Refrigeration. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://www.aceee.org/consumer/refrigeration
3 This assumes an electricity rate of $0.17/kWh, Calculated using the ENERGY STAR Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=refrig.calculator.
4 ENERGYSTAR®, Refrigerators for Consumers: Buying Guidance. Retrieved June 11, 2011, from http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=find_a_product.showProductGroup&pgw_code=RF
5 Goorskey, Sarah, Wang, K., Smith, A. (2004). Rocky Mountain Institute’s Home Energy Briefs #8 Kitchen Appliances. Snowmass, CO: Rocy Mountain Institute. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://www.rmi.org/rmi/pid217. (p. 2)