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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Money saving tips for purchasing an energy efficient refrigerator

New replacement refrigerators can be purchased with energy efficiency in mind as each model of refrigerator has different features, model criteria and energy consumption that affect its energy use. Since the energy efficiency of refrigerators became regulated starting in 1993, energy star efficiency ratings have come into effect increasing the energy efficiency of these appliances even more. 

When buying an efficient refrigerator, first consider consulting energy star's 'refrigerator retirement savings calculator' to see how size and model of a new refrigerator can affect operating costs. Also, one should not only take into consideration the energy guide located on or near the refrigerator but other factors that can influence the cost savings of refrigerator use.

The following is a list of several items that can be planned for and/or adjusted on a refrigerator to enhance energy efficiency. Some of the factors affecting a refrigerator's energy consumption are listed below. Similar and other refrigerator energy efficiency buying tips are available at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) website and the sources listed at the end of this article.

• Size of refrigerator 
• Energy consuming extras and refrigerator lighting
• Temperature controls 
• Factory established energy efficiency 
• Warranty on the refrigerator and energy star ratings 
• Location of condenser coils and coolant type

Size


Naturally larger refrigerators use more energy but hold more food. The larger a household the greater the chance a larger refrigerator and possibly even an additional freezer may be required. Keeping the size of a refrigerator optimal can help lower energy costs and add useful space to a kitchen.

Amenities


Extras like an ice machine, cold water dispenser and stylized handles and shapes can be fun and interesting but cost more. These amenities are not essential and may best excluded especially if a budget must be met. A simple refrigerator with a freezer will also make ice but one will have to store it in an internal ice bucket rather than use the ice maker dispenser. Refrigerator bulbs can also be either removed or replaced with a low wattage compact fluorescent light bulb to save electricity.

Temperature controls


Refrigerators have temperature controls for both the fridge and freezer sections. Understanding how the temperature controls work and adjusting them to the right levels can have a significant effect on energy consumption. Additionally, the external temperature around a refrigerator can also influence how hard the fridge has to work. For this reason, fridges and/or freezers in basements and rooms not exposed to direct sunlight may require less energy. The manual of a fridge should have instructions on the best use of a refrigerator.

Efficiency


This is the most important feature when selecting an energy efficient refrigerator as this can determine how consistently, and how much the fridge will save energy. The higer the energy efficiency rating or EER, the more energy efficient the fridge should be. The higher rating may also be costlier but could possibly be tax deductible in some countries and locations.

Warranty and expected lifespan


The longer the original buyer warranty lasts the better as these manufacturers warranties don't require additional purchase of extended warranty. If a fridge is a good fridge it may not need an extended warranty and repairs may be included with other warranties such as home owners warranties and real estate insurance policies. The longer a refrigerator is expected to last the better as this will prolong having to buy a new one after that and lower the distributed cost over time.

Coil location, type and cleanliness


The location of the condenser coils and the type of cooling system a refrigerator uses will affect how efficient the fridge is. Before purchasing a refrigerator studying the mechanics of a fridge, how coils work and why different fridge cooling units are more efficient than others may assist in purchasing a more energy efficient model. After buying a fridge, reading the fridge manual and keeping the condenser coils of a refrigerator dust free and with enough airflow can also enhance their efficiency. While the cost savings may be small at first, cumulatively the pennies may add up especially if used in conjunction with some of the other techniques in this article.

An energy efficient refrigerator depends on several variables including the product design, size, location, usage related aspects, lighting and other fixtures and the cooling system itself. Buying an energy efficient refrigerator may only become cost effective if one's pre-existing refrigerator is very old and cannot be replaced or repaired inexpensively i.e. if one has to put down the money for a new fridge considering energy efficiency may not be a bad idea. 

The time it takes for the cost savings of energy efficient refrigerators to add up varies with the model and usage and how closely some of the tips in this article are followed. Generally, the smaller and cheaper the fridge was at time of purchase in addition to the EER level, the less time it will take to recoup cost. After purchase maintenance and usage can also affect how much energy a refrigerator uses. Practicing some of the tips provided in this article and/or its sources may help improve household energy savings.

Sources:

http://www.aceee.org/consumerguide/refrigeration.htm
http://www.alcoa.com/makeanimpact/en/tips/tips.asp?cat_id=at_home_appliances
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=refrig.calculator
http://www.horizonservicesinc.com/reference/tips-articles/refrigerator-maintenance-save-energy