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How a New Refrigerator can save You Money

Refrigerators: Can New Models Save You Money

By Tobias Roberts Rise Writer
Jun 23, 2020

There is nothing worse than waking up one morning, opening the refrigerator, and finding a mess of rotten food, spoiled milk, and melting ice cubes. Though the unexpected expense can cause problems for almost every family budget, many of the new refrigerator models available today can save you money over the long run. Below, we take a detailed look at how a new refrigerator might be able to pay for itself, especially if your older refrigerator is on its last legs.

Table of Contents

  1. What Is An Energy Star Certified Refrigerator?
  2. How Much of My Homes Energy Is Used by My Refrigerator?
  3. Do Older Refrigerators Use More Electricity?
  4. How Much Can You Save With An New Refrigerator?
  5. What Is the Average Number of Refrigerators per Household?
  6. Can You Recycle Your Old Refrigerator?
  7. What Is the Average Life Expectancy of a Refrigerator?
  8. How Much Does a Refrigerator Cost?
  9. Why Buy an Energy Star Certified Refrigerator?
  10. Bottom Line
Energy Star Refrigerator Filo Plus
Energy Star Refrigerator. Photo Credit: Filo Plus

Think about what appliances in our homes use the most energy. What comes to mind? Most of us probably think about air conditioners, central heating units, and maybe even the living room television. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that refrigerators are a large user of electricity use in the modern American home.

What Is An Energy Star Certified Refrigerator?

An ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator is a refrigerator that has been tested and is at least 9 percent more energy-efficient than the federal minimum energy efficiency standard. These refrigerators and designed to save you money through improvement in compressors and insulation. The ENERGY STAR program is jointly operated by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

How Much of My Homes Energy Is Used by My Refrigerator?

While 17% of the electricity used in the average home is for air conditioning, 7% is used to run refrigerators. It should be noted that refrigerators have become significantly more efficient, overall than they were in past years. Previous U.S. Department of Energy reports indicated that they were the second-highest energy use in the home, at almost 14%.

Old Fridge

Do Older Refrigerators Use More Electricity?

Older models act as energy hogs that push up the percentage of energy used by refrigerators nationwide. For example, an 18 cubic foot refrigerator from the 1980s is most likely using around 1,400 kWh per year of electricity, almost four times more than newer models.

Fortunately, many of the newer models of refrigerators are, in fact, much larger than older models while still using much less electricity. Today's monster 25 cubic foot Energy Star side-by-side refrigerator only uses around 60 kWh of electricity per month. In comparison, a 1996 15 cubic foot frost-free refrigerator consumed almost three times that amount of power at 150 kWh per month. Thus, you could potentially double the amount of refrigerator space while drastically reducing the amount of electricity consumed by your refrigerator.

How Much Can You Save With An New Refrigerator?

Most homeowners' financial common sense to use an appliance might seem like most homeowners' financial common sense until it is no longer functional or practical. From a purely economic standpoint, however, you will most likely be able to save money by changing to newer and more energy-efficient models.

In the United States, the average cost of electricity is around 13 cents per kWh. If you have an old refrigerator that uses an average of 150 kWh per month, you pay an average of $19.50 per month to keep it running around the clock or $234 per year. A 17 cubic foot Energy Star refrigerator, on the other hand, only uses around 35 kWh per month, which would cost you $4.55 a month, or about $55 per year. Over a year, you could expect to save around $180.

Large vendors sell similar sized and energy-efficient refrigerators for as little as $700. The savings on your electricity bill over five years would more than offset the refrigerator's cost, and you would continue to save over the 15 to 20-year lifespan of the fridge.

If you want even more savings, a ten cubic foot refrigerator manufactured by Magic Chef uses under 25 kWh per month and costs less than $400. By switching to this type of refrigerator from an older, inefficient fridge, you could pay yourself back in only a few months. The annual cost of running this fridge (around $40) is what you'd pay for only two months of running an older model of refrigerator.

What Is the Average Number of Refrigerators per Household?

Almost one out of every four American households has at least two refrigerators at home. 15% of households have a second refrigerator with at least 20 years under its belt and use much more energy than newer models. These statistics show that as many households transition to more energy-efficient refrigerators, they "move" their old one to the basement, garage, or another part of the home. While having extra space to keep the beer cold might sound appealing, you are most likely paying a hefty price to keep that old refrigerator around.

refrigerator recycling

Can You Recycle Your Old Refrigerator?

Look for a refrigerator recycling program offered by your utility or municipality - getting rid of (and recycling) your old refrigerator might be easier than you think. Programs usually include a free pickup service and money back.

What Is the Average Life Expectancy of a Refrigerator?

Refrigerators that are properly maintained should last an average of 14 to 17 years, with compact models tending to last a few years less than larger models. However, what can be even more disheartening is checking new refrigerators' prices at your local appliance store.

How Much Does a Refrigerator Cost?

While you can find new refrigerators for around $350, top freezer refrigerators come in under $1,000. In contrast, newer, energy-efficient side-by-side refrigerator and freezer models can cost upward of $1,200 to 2,000 depending on dimensions and features.

Energy Star Refrigerator
Energy Star Certified Refrigerator. Photo Credit: Zero Energy Project

Why Buy an Energy Star Certified Refrigerator?

Energy Star certification is awarded to different appliances that meet strict requirements for energy usage. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the United States government monitors this program. Not only do these appliances use less energy, but they also cost less to operate and give off much less greenhouse gas emissions than similar models. The EPA regularly updates the energy requirements for this certification based on technology improvements that increase appliances' energy efficiency.

Energy Star Refrigerator The Conscious Builder
Energy Star Refrigerator. Photo Credit: The Conscious Builder

Refrigerators began to apply for Energy Star certification back in 1996. Today, Energy Star certified fridges are an average of 9% more energy efficient than other models that meet the minimum federal regulation for energy efficiency standards. While larger refrigerators will use more power than smaller models, Energy Star models are the most energy-efficient in their respective class and size. You can find a complete list of medium, large and extra-large Energy Star certified refrigerators here.

EnerGuide Fridge Label
EnerGuide Fridge Label. Photo Credit: Natural Resources Canada

In Canada, you can also look for Energuide ratings in-store to determine how much a specific model will cost you to operate.

Energy Star Refrigerator PlaidFox
Energy Star Refrigerator. Photo Credit: PlaidFox

Bottom Line

Your old refrigerator is pushing up your monthly electric bill and increasing the carbon footprint of your home. Switching to a new, more energy-efficient model of refrigerator is a win-win situation. It will save you money while also drastically cutting back on the carbon emissions associated with your household.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-06-18T03:34:41+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.

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