Mother Earth Living

What You Need to Know About Energy Star Refrigerators

Recent improvements in insulation and compressors mean today’s refrigerators use much less energy than older models. An Energy Star refrigerator uses 20 percent less energy than a non-Energy Star model, so replacing a fridge from the 1980s would save you more than $100 each year on your utility bills. Replace a fridge from the 1970s and save nearly $200! To find out how much money you’ll save by replacing your existing refrigerator, visit the Energy Star website and search “refrigerator retirement savings.”

Energy Star got some bad press this year when an  investigation revealed it had certified some not-so-green products. Program officials are working to fix the problems, and Energy Star remains a reliable source of efficiency information. Read more about it in editor in chief Robyn Griggs Lawrence’s blog, Natural Home Living.

Buying a refrigerator? Five things you need to know

1. Buy an Energy Star model. They use 20 percent less energy.

2. Check the yellow EnergyGuide label to compare the model’s energy use with similar models and estimate annual operating costs.

3. Models with top-mounted freezers use 10 to 25 percent less energy than bottom-mount or side-by-side models.

4. Purchase an appropriately sized refrigerator. The most energy-efficient models are typically 16 to 20 cubic feet.

5. Skip the icemaker and dispenser. Automatic icemakers and through-the-door dispensers increase energy use by 14 to 20 percent and raise the purchase price by $75 to $250.

Make the most of your fridge

Simple steps can reduce your refrigerator’s energy use.

1. Set it to the appropriate temperature. Keep your refrigerator at 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place your fridge in a cool place, away from heat sources such as ovens, dishwashers, or direct sunlight.

3. Allow air circulation behind the fridge. Leave a few inches between the wall and the refrigerator, and keep the condenser coils clean if you have an older model. Read the user’s manual to learn how to clean coils safely.

4. Check the door seals. An easy test: Place a dollar bill half inside the door and close it. If you can slide the bill out, you should replace the seals.

5. Keep the door closed. Minimize the amount of time the fridge door is open.

–Reprinted with permission from Energy Star,

  • Published on Aug 17, 2010
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