Replacing My Refrigerator — With or Without Energy Star
There aren’t a lot more opportunities for making my home more energy efficient, but one thing that stands out is replacing my refrigerator. It’s from 1999, and any fridge that old or older was made before federal efficiency standards were increased, so the energy saved by a new refrigerator makes replacing one that old cost-effective. According to the Energy Star refrigerator calculator, my old Frigidaire FRT18SJG uses 833 kWh/year, roughly $127/year. Comparable refrigerators today use about half that.
In looking for a new refrigerator, I immediately looked for which models earned a $50 rebate from Mass Save. Unfortunately, those are only the 17 models rated Energy Star Most Efficient. Looking more closely, I realized that there are some serious flaws in Energy Star’s rating system for refrigerators. Because they split the fridges into categories based on their configuration (top freezer, bottom freezer, french doors) and only grant the label to fridges 9-10% more efficient than others in their own category, configurations that use the most energy (generally french door bottom freezers with through-the-door ice makers) have a larger spread and are more likely to get the label than others. And the thing that can make the most difference in energy use–the size of the refrigerator–is ignored. So I decided to ignore the Energy Star label entirely and just look at the kWh use.
Another important factor was my space limitations. Unless I wanted to remove the cupboard above or the wall next to it, the new fridge could only be an inch or two bigger than the old one. And an 18 cubic foot refrigerator was surprisingly hard to find. There’s been a creep upwards in terms of refrigerator size over the years, so that the most common size I found in stores was 24 cubic feet. Jason also had a preference for a bottom freezer. That and size were our major parameters.
We finally settled on a Kitchenaid KRBX109EWH. (A GE Artistry ABE20EGHWS was our second choice.) Its annual energy use is 469 kWh/year, a savings of 364 kWh/year over our old one. (By comparison, the EnergyStar Most Efficient refrigerators ranged from 448 to 637 kWy/year.)
It’s being delivered next week, and we’re very excited. I’ll let you know how we like it once we actually start using it. And keep an eye out for our experience recycling our old fridge through Mass Save.