A refrigerator is one of the most widely used electrical appliances to keep our food cool and safe. But, in most homes, a refrigerator is one of the largest energy consumer (along with other monsters like Air Conditioners). 10 or 20 years back, refrigerators were used to consume around 1400 kWh on an average (1400 units on your energy meter) in a year, while the modern technology has reduced the consumption to around 350 kWh a year. You can not simply put your fridge/refrigerator in off mode to save energy (which you can do with some other electrical appliances), as they need to keep your food cool or frozen 24 hours a day. So for saving energy in refrigeration, you either need to choose a more efficient model of refrigerators or follow some best practices while using your existing refrigerator.
How to choose an energy efficient refrigerator?
As mentioned above, old fridges were high energy consumers while the latest ones are energy efficient. So, it makes sense that if you are using a fridge which is older than 10 years, you should consider replacing it. Here are few things to consider while buying a new fridge –
- Check for efficiency label – Energy Star is an international standard for energy efficient consumer products and it is adopted by U.S., E.U., N.Z. and few other countries. Refrigerators carrying the Energy Star label are 20% more efficient than standard models without the Energy Star label. Also, look for an energy rating label or EnergyGuide label which gives you the information on how much energy efficient the refrigerator is.
In India, look for a BEE Star label which is mandated by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) of India. Choose a model with 4 or 5 star rating.
- ‘Top freezer’ models are more efficient that ‘side by side’ models. Refrigerators with the freezer section at top or bottom are almost 10 to 15% more efficient than those side-by-side freezers. This is because cold air is denser than warm air and it falls. These models are also relatively cheaper. However, top-freezer models are often considered as old fashioned and don’t always offer the most convenient storage.
- Choose appropriate refrigerator size – It is obvious that larger volume requires greater the energy is needed. So, choose the size wisely according to your needs.
Best practices to improve energy efficiency of your refrigerator
Following are some of the best energy efficiency tips for refrigerators.
- If possible, keep your fridge/refrigerator away from any heat source such as Oven or direct sunlight. It will operate more efficiently if placed at a cool spot.
- Keep at least 10cm distance between the fridge and the wall. This will allow the coils to work more efficiently.
- Set the temperature only as cold as needed. Usually, 35 to 38 °F (1.7 to 3.3 °C) of temperature will keep your food safe, and the ideal temperature for freezer section is 0 °F (-18 °C). Avoid setting up your refrigerator at unreasonably low temperatures.
- Don’t open the fridge door unnecessarily too frequently and make sure that the door isn’t left open for longer than necessary. Cool air escapes every time the refrigerator door is opened and then the unit has to work harder to maintain the temperature again.
- Don’t put hot food directly into the fridge. Let is cool down at room temperature at least an hour.
- Keep the heat exchange coils clean. Heat from the refrigerator is transferred outside through the coils on the back of the unit. Gathering of dust on them would put more load on the condenser and thereby consuming more energy.
- Defrost the freezer (if auto-defrost function is not present) before the frost reaches a quarter inch thick.