Energy Star Refrigerators
A green home is one using as little energy as possible. In many cases, the largest single electricity user in the home is the refrigerator; therefore, it makes sense that you should take care to select a refrigerator that's as efficient as possible.
Why Energy-Efficient ?
It's important to do your homework when shopping for a new fridge. Since almost 70% of our electricity comes from burning coal and natural gas, which contain greenhouse gasses and other pollutants, an efficient refrigerator will help to reduce your environmental impact. Here are some things to look for.
Energy Star Refrigerators!
Any new refrigerator should always be Energy Star certified. This is your indicator that it meets MINIMAL federal standards for energy efficiency. All Energy Star fridges will feature the Energy Star logo prominently displayed on all labels, as well as the unit itself.
Advancements in refrigerator technology, such as insulation and compressors, make today's fridges much more efficient than older models. Energy Star models are at the top of the list for efficiency. Energy Star certified refrigerators are required to use 20% less energy than non-certified models. Choosing a new Energy Star model over a non-qualified model and you can cut your energy bills by $165 or more over the fridge's lifetime.
It's important to note that Energy Star is a minimum requirement for efficiency compared with non-qualified models. Many refrigerator models go much further than the Energy Star requirements to offer even more efficiency and savings. You can easily identify the most efficient models by looking at the yellow EnergyGuide label that is required for all new appliances.
The EnergyGuide will have a scale to compare the estimated annual operating cost for similar models. Always try to choose a model with the lowest operating cost; it's EnergyGuide label will have an arrow as close to the left side of the scale as possible. The most efficient models will often be so efficient that its arrow is actually off the scale!
The Type of Refrigerator You Choose Matters
For refrigerators, both the Energy Star and EnergyGuide labels only compare models of similar size and features. Make sure you are only comparing models with the features (and size) you wish to buy.
Be realistic in determining what size refrigerator you need. Generally speaking, the larger the fridge, the more energy it uses. The most efficient models are usually in the 16 to 20 cubic feet range.
The style of fridge makes a difference, as well. A model with a freezer on top uses 10 to 15 percent less energy than a side-by-side model. Bottom-freezer models run a close second to top freezer models for efficiency.
Many of the fancy features on new refrigerators unfortunately draw more energy, and are often not factored into Energy Star ratings. Through-the-door ice and water dispensers and automatic ice makers are big energy-wasters; if you can live with a little less convenience, you'll save lots of energy (and money).
There is one feature that's worthwhile; an open-door alarm. Houses with kids tend to have refrigerators with doors left open (trust us, we know all about this) which will obviously skyrocket energy usage.
When to Replace an Older Refrigerator
Replacing an older fridge with a newer efficient model won't automatically save enough to pay for the new unit in a reasonable amount of time. But the older your current refrigerator is, the more energy and money you'll save with a new one.
Today's Energy Star refrigerators use only half the electricity of models made before 1993.
If your current fridge is from the 1980s, a new Energy Star fridge can save over $100 on utility bills each year. Replacing a unit from the 70s can save over $200 a year. Bottom line: the older your current fridge, the better off you'd be investing in a new efficient model. Also, be on the lookout for tax credits or rebates that may be offered for purchasing a new efficient appliance for even greater savings.
If you do replace an old fridge, don't move the old one to the garage and keep using it! This obviously isn't going to save you any energy whatsoever. If you need more capacity, consider buying a small, efficient fridge. Better yet, if you only need refrigerator once in awhile, leave the old fridge unplugged until you need it.
Make sure your old fridge is properly recycled; check with your local utility company or waste hauler for information on recycling programs for refrigerant-containing appliances in your area.