Choosing Energy Efficient Freezers and Refrigerators

Energy efficient refrigerators and freezers come in a variety of sizes and styles, each having its own advantages and disadvantages. The Energy Star program teaches consumers to evaluate the product’s advantages and disadvantages principally by how frugal it is in terms of energy use and operating costs. For instance, a two-door side-by-side refrigerator is using more energy than unit in a similar-size with a top or bottom freezer due to a larger freezer volume and a larger surface area of a side-by side freezer.

Energy Star Freezers and Refrigerators

The Kill a Watt meter, is a simple gadget that estimates how much energy your appliances use. Credit: Ladyada

If you are unsure about whether you need a new freezer or refrigerator, first estimate how much energy your current model uses. This can be effortlessly completed with a “kill a watt” meter, a simple gadget that connects between the plug and outlet. The resulting number needs to be compared with the federal Energy Star efficiency ratings for units of similar size. To find the current ratings, you should go to Energy Star product database, select “Find Energy Star Products” and click on “freezers” or  “refrigerators”. You can further perform a product search to evaluate freezers, refrigerator-freezers and refrigerators by type, size and brand.

Energy Efficiency Labeling Standards: US and EU

In the US, standards for power use in freezers and refrigerators is prescribed by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA). It categorizes refrigerators and freezers by configuration, automatic or manual defrost and through-the-door ice service (refrigerators).

The EU energy efficiency label.

The EU has developed a labeling system for freezers and refrigerators ranging from G to A+++. The label is expressed as an energy efficiency index or EEI, that indicates the power consumption per year relative to an indicative consumption that is usually based on the appliance type and storage volume. Freezers and refrigerators that have been in operation for more than ten years tend not to have limits to the amount of energy used, and will usually be branded with a G rating. More recent models will almost always be branded with an A+ or higher, proving to be by far the most efficient and ultimately, the cheapest.

How to Minimize Environmental Impact From the Disposal of your Old Refrigerator or Freezer

There is no question that purchasing an energy efficient freezer is the most efficient choice. However, it may be difficult for some to decide if exactly it will work towards bettering the environment. Arguably, constructing a newer product, transporting it as well as getting rid of an old appliance always carries an environmental impact. Saying this, energy-efficient models most definitely qualify as the best long-term alternative. And there a couple of options to help you to minimize environmental impact from disposal of an older model:

  • Locate a place that will pick up your old refrigerator or freezer for recycling
  • Contact the company you are buying your new product from and ask them about disposal options.
  • Check if your state or local government has a recycling program.

Purchasing an energy efficient Energy Star freezer or refrigerator unit will eventually pay off in your utility bills as qualified models are 20 percent more efficient than non-qualified models.

Energy Efficient Refrigerators – Things to Know

  • EnergyGuide label shows how much electricity a particular model uses in kilowatt-hours per year. The smaller this number, the more frugal the model is in terms of energy use and operating costs.

    The EnergyGuide label shows how much electricity a particular model uses in kilowatt-hours per year. The smaller this number, the more frugal the model is in terms of energy use and operating costs.

  • A manual defrost model uses 50% the energy of an automatic defrost. This model must be regularly defrosted in order to give best results.
  • Refrigerators that come with the freezer (bottom or top) are the most energy efficient.
  • Models with Anti-Sweat Heater Control use 5-10% more energy.
  • Too small a refrigerator can mean extra trips to the grocery store. Too large a refrigerator may use more space and energy. The best option is to decide which size suits your needs and then evaluate the Energy Guide label on each model.

Energy Efficient Freezers – Things to Know

  • Larger freezers use up more space and energy.
  • Chest freezers take up more space but have higher efficiency than upright freezers. Cold air doesn’t leak out when the door is opened and they have a better insulation.
  • Automatic defrost freezers consume 40 percent more electricity than similar manual defrost models. Knowing this is significant in getting the most out of your freezer while cutting down on environmental impact. While manual defrosting uses less energy it is often disregarded because it takes up more of the homeowners time. This is really a question about environmental impact against time and effort.

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  1. Dear Sir, this information was exactly what I needed. Thank you for your clear explanations.

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