Guide to choosing an energy-efficient fridge

Updated on March 29, 2024
5-minute read

Guide to choosing an energy-efficient fridge

Updated on March 29, 2024
5-minute read

Outside of your home's heating, cooling and water heater costs, your refrigerator is likely your most energy-hungry device.

Your refrigerator uses energy constantly, keeping your food and drinks cool or frozen every second of every day. Your other major appliances, like the dishwasher or washer, only use energy when running. That fridge never stops!

A newer, ENERGY STAR®-certified fridge will use up to 9% less energy than a standard new model. If you still use an older fridge, you will save even more with an upgrade. Upgrading to energy-efficient appliances is good for the planet and your wallet! Plus, a new fridge can improve the look and function of your kitchen.

Here is more information to help you choose the right energy-efficient fridge for your needs and budget.

Women reaching for a lemon in refrigerator
Women reaching for a lemon in refrigerator
Women reaching for a lemon in refrigerator

How much power does a fridge use?

Your fridge is basically a mini air conditioner set at a very cold temperature. It runs on cycles to maintain that temperature, but it runs about eight hours daily. That means it’s using energy a full third of each day. Read more about how much power a fridge uses.

Since that fridge is constantly draining energy, it makes sense to go with an energy-efficient model. Energy-efficient fridges are significantly more efficient than an older, standard model for the same-sized appliance. Depending on the age of your refrigerator, this upgrade may save up to 35% of energy.  

As mentioned, an ENERGY STAR®-certified fridge is already 9% more efficient than a brand-new uncertified model. Those energy savings add up over time as fridges usually last for decades.

If you are curious and want to know how much power your fridge uses, you could buy a plug-in power meter that goes between your fridge and the main power outlet. These are available at most hardware stores. Ensure you get one rated for the appliance you're testing with the correct plug type.

Look at the labels!

If you’re buying any new appliance, look for the ENERGY STAR® label! ENERGY STAR-certified fridges can be so efficient that a top freezer on a qualifying refrigerator can use less energy than a 60-watt light bulb. These products have improved compressor efficiency and casing insulation that your old refrigerator doesn't have.

If you don't see the ENERGY STAR® high-efficiency label when shopping for a new fridge, look for the EnerGuide label (which is required for all Canadian appliances) that'll show you the annual energy consumption in kilowatt-hours (kWh). Lower is better. The further to the left the indicator sits, the more efficient it is compared to similar appliances.

Getting the most out of your energy-efficient fridge.

Even with an energy-efficient fridge, there are still things you can do to optimize your refrigerator's power consumption.

Set the thermostat.

You want to set your fridge and freezer to the correct temperature that preserves your food, but also minimizes energy use. To save a little, increase the standard temperature by a few degrees. You might not notice a difference in your food but it could save energy.

Check your manufacturer’s recommended settings first. They will provide a range that meets food-safe guidelines. Choosing a temperature closer to the warmer side of that range can save significantly, especially with the freezer.

Check the space around the fridge.

Most of us tuck the fridge back as far as it will go to reduce wasted space. But your fridge needs a little gap between it and the wall for proper airflow. If the fridge struggles to collect the air around it, it can work harder than needed. Give it a little breathing room.

You should also avoid putting the fridge directly beside the oven or in direct sunlight. If possible, keep it in the coolest corner of the kitchen.

Keep it full.

Keeping your fridge full is another way to increase its energy efficiency. Solids and liquids hold cooler temperatures better than the surrounding air. If you’re putting away leftovers, make sure they’ve cooled down and are covered. As uncovered food dries out, it increases humidity in the fridge, which then requires more cooling.

Keep the door shut!

Standing in front of an open fridge while you decide on a snack can cost you energy! All that cold air held inside, cooling your food, is now let loose in your kitchen. You'll likely hear the fridge's compressor kick on just seconds after opening the door -- that's your energy bill running.

Check your energy plan.

How much are you paying for electricity? It is possible you could be paying less!

Direct Energy is a top electricity provider in Alberta. Plus, we’ll bundle gas and electricity in one, making it easy to understand and manage the bill.

Reach out to us to learn more! Browse our website or contact us today to see how we can help.

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