Outside of your home's heating, cooling and water heater costs, your refrigerator is likely the most energy-hungry device you own.
That’s because your refrigerator uses energy constantly, as your food and drinks need to be kept cool or frozen every second of every day. That requires more energy usage than other large appliances such as your dishwasher or your washer/dryer, which only require energy when running.
If you're still using the same fridge that came with your home, or you've been lugging that old refrigerator with you in successive moves, you could benefit from an energy-efficient fridge.
Altogether, it’s possible to save hundreds of dollars each year by upgrading to energy-efficient appliances, which is good for the environment and good for your wallet too.
Read on to see how you can transform your kitchen while also doing something nice for Mother Nature -- you might even qualify for a rebate, check the Energy Efficiency Alberta website for details.
Because it's essentially a mini air conditioner set at a very cold temperature, a typical fridge runs for about eight hours a day -- a full third of each 24 hours.
Given the amount of time each day a refrigerator runs, it makes a lot of sense to go with an energy-efficient model. Energy-efficient fridges may be four to five times more efficient than an older, standard model for the same-sized appliance. This heightened efficiency may save you over 75 percent of what it costs to run your older refrigerator.
Even compared to a newer model, an energy-efficient fridge uses 10 percent less energy -- something that adds up over time since many refrigerators are in operation for decades.
If you are curious and want to know how much power your fridge consumes, you could buy a plug-in power meter that sits between your fridge and the main power outlet. You can find these at most hardware stores. Make sure to get one that is rated for the appliance you're testing with the correct plug type.
The secret to modern-day energy savings is the ENERGY STAR® rating.
In fact, ENERGY STAR® fridges can be so efficient that a top freezer on a qualifying refrigerator can use less energy than a 60-watt light bulb. Overall, these savings are possible due to improvements in compressor efficiency and casing insulation that your old refrigerator just 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, and the further to the left the indicator sits, the more efficient it is compared to similar appliances.
To make things easier, you can research most brands and models from the comfort of your home. Visit Natural Resources Canada’s calculator to find and compare energy costs for different ENERGY STAR® fridges.
Even with an energy-efficient fridge, there are still things you can do to optimize your refrigerator's power consumption.
First, learn how to set your refrigerator. The idea is that you want to set both your fridge and freezer to the correct temperature that matches your preference, but also minimizes the energy consumption.
To save more power and to tailor your fridge settings to your preference, try increasing the standard temperature settings by a few degrees. You might not even notice a difference in how your food is cooled, once you slightly adjust the settings. The recommended settings of most contemporary fridges should be fine but verify if you're unsure.
Also, consider the location of your refrigerator – this factor influences the energy-efficiency of your fridge.
While tucking the fridge back as far as it'll go seems ideal for reducing wasted space, not giving your fridge an adequate air gap is a surefire way to overtax your appliance, since the fridge struggles to counteract the hot air collecting around it. For this reason, it's also advised to avoid placing your fridge next to an oven or stove, or in direct sunlight.
Keeping your fridge full is another way to increase efficiency as solids and liquids hold cooler temperatures better than the surrounding air. And be sure you cover any liquids or prepared food, as they'll dry out and increase humidity in the fridge, which then requires more cooling.
Similarly, usage plays a big role in your fridge's efficiency.
Standing in front, door ajar while you decide what to eat while the minutes tick by is not the greatest idea even with the most energy-efficient fridge in the world. All that cold air that was held safely inside, cooling your perishables, is now scattered about your kitchen. You'll likely hear the fridge's compressor kick on just seconds after opening the door -- that's your energy bill running.
As one of North America's largest residential energy retailers, Direct Energy is committed to powering your world.
Not only are we a top electricity provider in Alberta, we'll bundle gas and electricity in one, easy to understand bill, maintain and repair your home's heating and cooling systems, and even warranty your HVAC system so you won't have to pay for an expensive repair -- all so you can streamline your energy, heating and cooling costs.
You can count on us! We love saving our customers time by providing affordable services that work holistically to keep you comfortable in your home.
Disclaimer: The ENERGY STAR® name and symbol are trademarks registered in Canada by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and are administered and promoted by Natural Resources Canada.