Getting a great fridge for a perfect price is all well and good, but what about the costs long term? By thinking about energy efficiency, you’ll be able to save money in running costs and do your bit for the environment.
AVERAGE RUNNING COSTS
Your fridge is one of the few energy-consuming appliances in the home which is left on continuously. As a result, cooling appliances like fridges have been found to be the most energy-hungry items, using up to a third of your overall power use.
However, the average running cost of a fridge is a surprisingly reasonable £25 per year. New models are more energy efficient than ever before, despite the average size of refrigerators growing larger.
If your current fridge is over ten years old, consider buying a replacement even if it’s still working. New designs have better insulation than older ones, as well as defrost features and high-efficiency compressors, which all work to save electricity. The money you save on your electricity bills over the years might even cover the initial upfront cost.
While new fridges are undoubtedly more efficient than older ones, there’s still variation between different models on the market. Annual running costs can vary from £12 to £38 per year, which makes a big difference over an appliance’s lifespan. You can compare running costs by looking at each fridge’s yearly energy consumption in its specifications – measured in kWh/year.
If your current fridge is over ten years old, consider buying a replacement even if it’s still working.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY RATINGS
The EU’s energy labels have made it easier than ever to understand an appliance’s efficiency.
Each fridge in the UK receives a rating on a scale which ranges from A+++ to D, with A+++ being the most efficient. This rating is worked out by comparing the storage space to electricity usage. All new fridges must now have a rating of A+ as a minimum.
The A+, A++, and A+++ ratings are all reasonably new. Even if your old model was one of the most efficient appliances on the market when you bought it, it might only be A rated.
It’s worth keeping in mind that by 2024, most products will have reverted back to the original A-G format, to avoid confusion. By this time, your A+++ appliance may well be on the lower end of the acceptable efficiency scale.
As well as the energy rating, the EU label also shows the fridge’s capacity in litres, average annual energy consumption, and noise level.
A fridge’s energy rating takes into account its storage capacity. Because of this, a smaller A++ model can be eco-friendlier than a larger A++ model.
That’s another reason why the kWh/ year statistics may be worth a look, and why size is an essential factor to consider when buying a fridge.
Carefully consider how much food you’ll need to store. A 100 or 200 litre fridge will be adequate for most couples, while families of four might find a 250 to 300 litre model ideal. Running a half-empty fridge will often waste electricity.
In contrast, the air will struggle to circulate if there’s not enough space around your food for it to do so. As a result, your appliance will have to work harder to keep everything cool. For these reasons, it’s best to try and find a balance when choosing the size of your fridge.
ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY FEATURES
Condensation in a fridge can turn into ice build-up on the back wall. Ice significantly affects how well your appliance works, to the extent that some items might perish more quickly. Auto defrost uses a careful combination of warming and cooling to melt frost and drain it away. Doing so means you can relax knowing your fridge is always running efficiently.
This handy feature will save energy while your fridge isn’t in use. It’ll keep the interior at a slightly higher temperature than usual, while still being cool enough to prevent the formation of odours and mould. Different appliances run this mode at different temperatures. Some are cold enough to keep some perishable foods stored safely until your return.
You can relax knowing your fridge is always running efficiently.
As well as choosing an environmentally friendly model, there are little things you can do to help your fridge run more efficiently.
Optimum Temperature – It’s recommended you keep your fridge at 4°C. Any colder and it’ll be using more electricity than necessary.
Leftovers – Check any hot food is cool before putting it inside. Adding warm or hot items into the fridge raises the temperature, potentially causing bacterial growth. It also means your fridge will have to work harder to get cool again.
Shut the Door – It seems obvious, but we can all be prone to leaving the fridge door open. Try to remember to close it – even if you’re just quickly pouring some milk on your cereal.
Air Circulation – When fitting your fridge, leave a couple of centimetres around the back and sides. Doing so improves air circulation, helping the cooling system run efficiently.
Maintenance – The back of your fridge can be a dust magnet. This build-up will increase energy consumption, so take a few minutes to clean it every now and again. It’s also worth checking the door seals – cracks can let in warm air.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY VS. PRICE
Expect to pay a little more for an economical appliance.
While the initial cost can be off-putting, remember to consider the annual savings you’ll make on running costs. If you’re saving £25 a year on your electricity bills, this adds up to £300 over a fridge’s average 13-year lifespan.