Choosing the Most Energy-Efficient Refrigerator for Your Home

Though some may argue that microwaves are the modern appliance people can’t live without, I’d argue that refrigerators are at least a tad bit more important. Refrigerators come in a variety of styles and designs and can be one of the biggest energy hogs in the home. While your design aesthetic may pull you toward a model with all the bells and whistles, your green conscious may pull you toward another.

The good news is that you can have the best of both worlds. If the most efficient fridge is out of your price range, or doesn’t match the design of your kitchen, there are enough choices that you can truly find a great refrigerator that fits your design style and your eco-conscious lifestyle.

Top Freezer Refrigerators
These refrigerators are inherently energy efficient given their basic design principle. Cold air is denser than warm air, therefore it falls. They are also usually among the cheapest units, making them a great fit for buyers who are on a budget. However, these models are often seen as old fashioned and don’t always offer the most convenient food storage.

Using the same principle that makes top freezer refrigerators energy efficient, it is easy to see why side-by-sides are the least energy efficient. These models are popular for their near standard through-the-door water dispenser and ice makers and they look nice too. However, they don’t offer much lateral storage space and use 10 to 30 percent more energy than other refrigerators.

Bottom Freezer Fridge

These models are ideal for the convenience-minded consumer. With the freezer placed at the bottom, access to the items you use most is easier and less taxing. Placing the freezer space at the bottom of the appliance is just as energy efficient, if not more, than placing it at the top and these models use about 16 percent less energy than side-by-side units

French Door

These models give you the best of both worlds. Energy efficiency and convenience with the bottom freezer and French doors give you wider shelves for storing large grocery items and dishes that take up a lot of space. One drawback on these models is that they have a very modern design that isn’t well-suited for all kitchens. They are also quite large and don’t fit into the existing design of every kitchen.

Other Considerations
Automatic ice-makers and through-the-door water dispensers are undeniably convenient. They are also undeniable energy hogs and use 14 to 20 percent more energy than models that don’t have them.

Be sure you buy a fridge that doesn’t just fit your space, but fits your lifestyle too. If you largely use your refrigerator to store takeout leftovers, you could probably make do with a smaller model. Buying a refrigerator that has more cooling space than you actually need means you are using and paying for energy you don’t need.

If the refrigerator you are replacing was made before 1993, The EPA and United States Department of Energy suggest that you recycle it rather than donating or selling it. These models use twice as much energy as today’s Energy Star rated appliances and create a series drain on the planet and your wallet.

Also, they may contain refrigerant made with chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a hazardous chemical linked to ozone depletion. Depending on your state and your energy supplier, you may be able to have your appliance picked up and get paid for turning it over. The deal doesn’t get much sweeter than that.

About the author:

Katie Campbell is an editor for where she writes appliance reviews. She has taken a special interest in refrigerators and encourages thorough research before making a purchase so you choose the best refrigerator for your lifestyle and the planet. Her passion for recycling old appliances peaked when she secretly defrosted her mother’s upright freezer from the early 80s and had it carted away to a recycling center.

Photo Source: Ricardo Migliani

Leave a Reply