The refrigerator is one of the most difficult appliances to lower the electricity usage of - at least through changing habits. While you can always use the AC less or even unplug your TV when you aren’t using it, these are luxuries that the refrigerator and its important job cannot afford. You can’t just unplug it or use it less because of the nature of its purpose, but you can invest in a more efficient model that will save you kWhs of energy and hundreds of dollars down the road.
The difference in refrigeration technology and efficiency since the late 20th century is huge. If your home or apartment doesn’t have an updated kitchen or was built several decades ago, your fridge is likely using over a thousand kWh per year. A modern energy efficient fridge can use as little as 336 kWh! One thing to be aware of though is the ice maker in new fridges. These devices, while handy, have the potential to double the electricity usage of your fridge.
If you’re ready to upgrade your fridge, looking into Energy Star models is a great way to start. All energy star models must be at least 20% more efficient than a standard model to be certified and often use up to 40% less than models sold in the early 2000s which are still present in a lot of un-updated kitchens. Just for some comparison, the annual average kWh usage for a 19-21.4 cu. Ft fridge from the early 1990s is 1266 kWh, from the late 90s it was 840 kWh and from the early 2000s, the average was 533 kWh. The modern average is only 336 kWh!
Not only will you be saving money by switching to a more efficient fridge, your carbon footprint will decrease immediately! Over the course of 5 years, you can prevent almost 1000 lbs of carbon pollution by upgrading your 1993-2000 fridge to a new energy star model. If you are upgrading from an early 90s fridge the reduction in your carbon footprint almost doubles. Another Important thing to think about when you are upgrading your refrigerator is how to recycle your old one in the most sustainable way and to minimize its carbon footprint.
The best way to ensure a sustainable transition from your old fridge to a newer, greener model is to pick a retailer that participates in the EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal Program (RAD). RAD helps minimize the impact of your old appliances on the environment and helps you dispose of your large appliances when you get a new one. RAD partners will even pick up the old appliance right from your door making cutting down your electricity usage even easier.