We all want to save money on energy expenses, but can something as simple as an Energy Star refrigerator save you money? We’re doing the math and the research to help you determine just how economically feasible an Energy Star refrigerator can be.
Keep reading to learn more about appliances and how the impact your energy bill, what an Energy Star rating is, and how to find the right refrigerator for your kitchen.
What is the Energy Star Rating and Why Does it Matter?
One of the first things you’ll probably notice when you start shopping for a new appliance is that many of the best refrigerators have a small blue sticker labeled “Energy Star.” The Energy Star was a program created by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the early 90’s.
The goal of the new energy program was to save American consumers money while also saving energy. The program has been a runaway success, with governments as far away as Europe adopting similar programs. The Energy Star program, itself, estimates that in 2015 alone it helped Americans save more than $34 billion in energy costs.
Energy Star Savings
In addition to monetary savings, the EPA estimates that Energy Star has saved over 4 trillion kWh of energy since the program began in 1992. This amounts to an incredible 2.8 billion metric ton greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
The Energy Star can meet both its aims (serving the American consumer and reducing energy use) through the creative use of benchmarking. By undertaking studies and setting energy consumption standards, Energy Star has created a series of requirements for a wide variety of products, including home appliances
To receive an Energy Star rating, companies must submit their products for rigorous testing. Products that meet or exceed Energy Star benchmarks receive the little blue label of approval, allowing customers to know, at a glance, which products are energy efficient. Consumers responded very favorably to the program, going so far as to be outraged when President Trump recently suggested shutting it down.
Savings That Are Here to Stay
Thankfully, it doesn’t look like that won’t be happening anytime soon and, in the meantime,, consumers can rely on Energy Star appliances to be 10-20% more efficient than their counterparts. While you might sometimes encounter higher prices in certified refrigerators, clothes washers, and so forth, you’ll find something called an Energy Guide when you shop.
The Energy Guide is a bright yellow tag that provides information on the energy savings (in dollars) an average user can expect to find. While you might not always find yourself in the “average user” category, this is a helpful metric as you compare different appliances.
Some of the simplest ways to take advantage of the Energy Star ratings are with changes to your current appliances. While you might be in a position to purchase a new home and can look for the Energy Star rating on that home, you’re probably not in a place to do that.
Instead, the first thing you can do is switch to a programmable Energy Star certified thermostat. A programmable thermostat can, in fact, save you as much as $180 per year! Such a device helps you to maximize energy efficiency by turning the air up, down, or off when you’re not home.
While some people do this manually, many don’t have that luxury and have a “smart” thermostat can help you save money and keep your appliances from working so hard.
Where is My Money Going?
To better understand how to save money with an Energy Star refrigerator, let’s take a closer look at the cost of energy and running appliances. Despite how boring a subject energy efficiency might seem, considering that the average American household can spend well over $3000 each year on energy expenses, it’s a subject well worth exploring.
How much you spend on energy consumption can vary wildly by state. Your heating expenses in places like Hawaii and Puerto Rico, for example, are probably practically nonexistent, but if you live in Connecticut, you’re paying a lot to keep your home warm during the long winters.
Speaking of heating and cooling, that’s the biggest energy expense for most American homes. After that, the refrigerator is one of the biggest electricity draws–largely because it’s on constantly, it’s also not uncommon for people to have second freezers or refrigerators in their garages or pantries.
Fortunately, Energy Star refrigerators are designed to cool better and provide more desirable features while simultaneously using less energy. That’s good news for your bottom line!
Not Just Your Wallet
It’s not just your wallet that suffers from using large amounts of energy–it’s also the world at large. Growing energy demand in the US is largely fueled by fossil fuels. These are nonrenewable, finite resources that contribute hugely to global warming and rising levels of pollution worldwide.
The idea that replacing your old, energy-sucking fridge with an Energy Star refrigerator could contribute to a pollution-free world seems silly, but the more Energy Star refrigerators operating in people’s homes, the better!
How to Make the Best Refrigerators Work for You
Even with its Energy Star refrigerator, since your fridge will be one of the biggest appliance energy draws in your home, it pays to try do what you can to keep those costs down. One of the things you should understand is that the range of energy consumption can vary dramatically on this kind of appliance can vary dramatically
Some freezers and fridges can use as much as 3600 kWh per year (appliances older than ten or fifteen years are notoriously inefficient) while the newest, best-rated, Energy Star appliances may use less than 1000 kWh each year. Once you add up what you’re paying locally for energy, it makes sense to replace your old unit.
Tips You Can Try for Better Efficiency
Even on an efficient unit, one of the first things you should do is try turning off the power saver switch. If you don’t notice condensation building up after you’ve turned it off, you’re in good shape and can save a few kWh.
You’ll also want to make sure that your fridge is running within the manufacturer’s recommended temperature settings. Too cold or too warm could mean extra energy consumption and less overall efficiency.
Make sure you defrost your freezer regularly and keep the seals on your fridge or freezer nice and firm. Finally, your dad was right: don’t leave the refrigerator door open! Keep your fridge cleaned out and organized so family members can find what they need quickly. Too much open-door time equals extra energy to cool it down again.
Finding the Top Energy Star Refrigerator Means Huge Savings Long-Term
You know by now that finding an Energy Star refrigerator can mean huge savings. So, how can you find the perfect unit for your family?
Because the refrigerator is so large, it’s something you’ll be staring at every day (unless you’re ready to spring for one hidden behind a cabinet door). This means that style and aesthetics will be just as important as function.
That’s not a problem, however! Today’s refrigerators are sleek, technologically ahead of the times, and more efficient than ever. You can find a myriad of options to work for your kitchen and your family’s needs while also saving money over the long-term. Let’s talk about some of the different styles available, including their pros and cons:
Neither new nor modern, the top freezer refrigerator is an old standby for a reason. It packs a lot of refrigeration into a small space and is somewhat customizable to your kitchen thanks to the fact that the door can swing open in either direction (on most models).
While you can typically find it a variety of finishes, you probably won’t find it with things like an in-door ice maker or water fountain. That said, those extra flourishes can sometimes drain energy, so you might not miss them at all.
Side by Side
Side by sides offer tons of shelving customization though they tend to be a little larger and not suited for very small kitchens. If you like some drawers and some shelves for your freezer, this is a great option, though some users do complain about not being able to find enough deep shelving space.
Bottom Freezer and French Door
Both the bottom freezer and French door styles provide freezer drawers on the bottom. You’ll do some bending to get your ice cream out, but there’s usually a huge amount of space that’s more accessible than in a top freezer configuration.
The door situation on top often just depends on space; if you have enough room, opt for the two-door French style for better access and less energy waste.
The Right Fridge for Your Kitchen
Ultimately, the best fridge is the one that meets your needs while keeping your home energy efficient, and that’s why we recommend an Energy Star refrigerator. Look for the small blue label, and you’re almost guaranteed a reduction in your energy bill for years to come!