Cold Comfort: Big Boosts in Fridge Efficiency
Refrigerator manufacturers are making huge strides in creating more energy efficient products, and with recent improvements in standards, upcoming designs will use a fifth of the energy that household refrigerators required 40 years ago. That will save the average owner about $150 over a typical 12-year product lifetime.
Government analysts note that side-by-side refrigerators might be more convenient than traditional top-andbottom models, but they offer less usable space and use more electricity—50 to
150 more kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, about 20 percent of the unit’s total energy consumption. An icemaker and door-accessed ice and water service can each add another 10 to 15 percent to overall refrigerator energy consumption.
Top Ten USA, the leading source of independent information about the energy efficiency of common products, identifies and publicizes the most efficient products on the market, so that when consumers are able to find the most energyand money-saving models to buy, manufacturers are encouraged to make products even more energy-efficient.
The nonprofit uses comprehensive information from Energy Star, the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), The California Energy Commission and professional and manufacturing trade publications to evaluate and determine the most energy-efficient refrigerators and freezers in the United States. They recently tested three size categories: medium (14 to 18 cubic feet); large (18 to 22 cubic feet) and extra-large (22 cubic feet and up). To compare the top 10 most efficient medium refrigerator models, visit nrdc.org/living/energy/topten.asp.
Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, calculates that by upgrading to Energy Star appliances, Americans saved enough energy in 2010 alone to avoid creating greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars, while saving nearly $18 billion on their utility bills.