Chapter

Refrigerators and Freezers

ENERGY STAR Refrigerators Are Cool!

The EnergyGuide label on new refrigerators tells you how much electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWh) a particular model uses in one year. The smaller the number, the less energy the refrigerator uses and the less it will cost you to operate. In addition to the EnergyGuide label, don’t forget to look for the ENERGY STAR label. A new refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR label uses at least 20% less energy than required by current federal standards and 40% less energy than the conventional models sold in 2001.

Refrigerator & Freezer Energy Tips

  • Look for a refrigerator with automatic moisture control. Models with this feature have been engineered to prevent moisture accumulation on the cabinet exterior without the addition of a heater. This is not the same thing as an “anti-sweat” heater. Models with an anti-sweat heater will consume 5% to 10% more energy than models without this feature.
  • Don’t keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37° F to 40° F for the fresh food compartment of the refrigerator and 5° F for the freezer section. If you have a separate freezer for long-term storage, it should be kept at 0° F.
  • To check refrigerator temperature, place an appliance thermometer in a glass of water in the center of the refrigerator. Read it after 24 hours. To check the freezer temperature, place a thermometer between some frozen packages. Read it after 24 hours.
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost refrigerators and freezers. Frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Don’t allow frost to build up more than a quarter of an inch thick.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing, or you might consider buying a new unit.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.

Long-Term Savings Tip

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying a new refrigerator. Select a new refrigerator that is the right size for your household. Top-freezer models are more energy efficient than side-by-side models. Ancillary features, such as icemakers and water dispensers, may be convenient, but they’ll increase your energy use.