Energy Efficient Refrigerators

by
Dr. John Vann, Department of Marketing
Green Initiatives Coordinator
April 2002

Your home refrigerator accounts for about 25% of your electric bill according to the Seattle City Light. Unless you have a pool pump or a hot tub, your home refrigerator uses more energy than any other appliance in your home according to DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network (EREN).

Check out the cool chart comparing appliances available at: http://www.eren.doe.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers/appliances.html
The good news is that refrigerator efficiency has increased dramatically in the last 10 years.  On average, Energy Star reports that current models are twice as efficient as those made in 1990.  Improvements in efficiency apply to compact office refrigerators too.

While campus facilities management has made many improvements in building energy efficiency, plug load on campus is largely under the control of faculty in their offices and students in the residence halls.  More good news is that there is a free directory published by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), February 2002 Directory of Certified Refrigerators and Freezers. This directory shows the size and energy consumption of specific brands/models and at the end has a ranking from most to least efficient within size categories. You'll see that there is variability within as well as across brands.  This directory is available as a free download from their web site. You must go through a formal ordering process to get to the free download link but it is quick and straightforward.

http://www.aham.org/products/productitem.cfm?recordID=77

When you replace your old office or home refrigerator (and if it's more than 10 years old, the sooner the better), you can use this guide to select the most efficient model. Other useful sites are listed below.

http://www.energystar.gov/products/refrigerators/#design
http://www.we-wg.com/house/energy/appliances.htm
http://www.ci.seattle.wa.us/light/conserve/tips/cv6tip_10.htm
http://www.eren.doe.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers/appliances.html  (See "Tips")
http://www.ase.org/checkup/home/main.html