Are you in the market for a refrigerator in 2011? As I did last year, I’ve compiled a list of the most energy efficient refrigerators available this year.
The refrigerator is one of the most energy intensive appliances in your home, rivaled only by your heating and air conditioning systems. It runs 24 hours a day. Therefore, the refrigerator is a logical place to start saving a large amount of energy.
Based on feedback I received with last year’s list, this year’s list is based on refrigerator type and kilowatt hours per year (kWh/yr), with the fridges using the least kWh/yr in their category taking the prize.
My criteria for the lists below are:
- The refrigerator meets Energy Star requirements.
- It is a full sized refrigerator and freezer combination with two separate compartments (no fridge-only, freezer-only, single-door, or compact models). I defined full size as greater than 16 cubic feet, since anything less seems to fall into the compact category.
- The refrigerators listed use the lowest number of kWh/yr for their particular type.
- The refrigerator must be commonly available at the usual retail outlets. In order to maximize the chances of that, I included only models that were made available after January 2010 AND that are listed as currently active by Energy Star. I also included only the best-known brands (GE, Kenmore, etc.) since the vast majority of people will be looking for one of these brands.
First, a general observation: If you want the absolutely most energy efficient refrigerator, you will want to look for a smaller model with a top freezer compartment and no ice maker. Size, compartment location and lack of an ice maker jumped out from the Energy Star data as the three most important criteria for energy efficiency.
Here is a list of the top three refrigerators by category. I include all models in a tie. Asterisks in the model lists denote product number variations.
1) Frigidaire LGUI1849L* and Kenmore 9704388*, 18.34 cubic feet, 334 kWh/yr . These are the most energy efficient refrigerator in their category that otherwise meet all of my criteria. At 334 kWh/yr these refrigerators take the prize for being the #1 most efficient refrigerators among all types and sizes. Frigidaire model FPU1888L* is very similar and has almost the same energy savings profile.
2) Various GE, Hotpoint, Frigidaire models, 18.1-18.2 cubic feet, 335 kWh/year. Tied for second place are a large number of models with the same cubic feet and energy usage profile.
FGUI1849L* (Frigidaire Gallery)
3) Kenmore 970-43962, 18.18 cubic feet, 356 kWh/yr. This third place model consumes a fair bit more energy for the same space compared to the models listed above, but still ranks as among the most efficient fridges available.
The next most efficient refrigerators are the bottom freezer types, which have become more popular in recent years.
1) Kenmore 6998*01* and Maytag MBF1958XE*. They are both 18.5 cubic feet, 392 KwH/yr and are the most energy efficient refrigerators for this category based on my criteria.
2) LG LFC21776**, 20.7 cubic feet and 400 kWh/yr. This model is a step larger in size, and along with it comes higher power consumption.
3) Kenmore 6928*01* and Maytag models MBL2258XE*, MBR2258XE*, and MBF2258XE*, 21.86 cubic feet, 403 kWh/yr. These models represent another bump up in size and energy usage, but are still a winner.
The side-by-side models represent the least efficient refrigerators as a class (probably because they tend to have the largest volume as a class and usually have an icemaker). They are a choice for many people–but be aware that the most energy efficient models in this class use 457 KwH/yr compared to 335 kWh/yr for the least efficient of the three top-freezer models, a difference of 122 kWh/yr and 35%.
Nevertheless, if you are in the market for a side-by-side, here are the top choices meeting the criteria. All the models below include an ice maker.
1) GE GSS20IEZ**** and GSS20GEZ, 19.95 cubic feet, 457 kWh/yr.
2) LG LSSC243** and LSC24971**, and Viking LSSC243ST , 23.5 cubic feet, 491 kWh/yr.
3) Whirlpool GSS26C4XX*0* and GSS26C5XX*0*, 26.46 cubic feet, 499 kWh/yr. These large refrigerators come with a relatively large energy usage profile–but they still come in at just under 500 kWh/yr and manage to edge out other competitors.