RefrigeratorRefrigerators keep food fresh, but they are among the biggest energy users in your home. Thanks to technological improvements, today’s refrigerators use far less energy than older models. If your unit is at least 10 years old, consider replacing it with a new, energy-efficient product.

What are the savings?

When shopping for a new refrigerator or freezer, look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR certified units are 10-20 percent more efficient than standard models.

What is the cost difference between an old and new refrigerator and how much will you save? ENERGY STAR estimates that a standard, 10-year old, 19-21 cubic foot refrigerator will cost about $77 a year to operate at the current nationwide average electricity rate of 11 cents per kilowatt-hour. A new ENERGY STAR rated model of the same size would cost $58 a year; a savings of $19 a year and $95 over a five-year period.

Refrigerator Cost Comparison


Annual Energy Cost

10-Year-Old Standard Unit




Your cost and savings will vary depending on the size, type, and age of your current unit. Use the Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator to find out how much you can save.

Take steps to save even more

The following actions will help you conserve energy and keep your new unit operating at peak performance:

  • Set thermostats at the recommended temperature settings—37°F to 40°F for the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer. This will help to optimize energy savings, while keeping food fresh.
  • Keep your refrigerator well-stocked without overfilling it. A refrigerator uses less energy when it is full because there is less air to cool. However, too many items packed together will reduce air circulation.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods before storing them in the refrigerator. Uncovered items release moisture, which causes the compressor to work harder.
  • Clean the coils on the back of the refrigerator on a regular basis. This will help to ensure proper airflow and keep the refrigerator running efficiently.
  • Position your refrigerator away from the oven, windows, and other sources of heat. Extra heat may cause it to work harder.
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