Energy savings of new refigerator vs. 10 year old model?

cruzmislNovember 26, 2008


I have a 10 year old Frigidaire refrigerator that works well and still looks good (knock on wood). I thought I read somewhere that buying a newer model refigerator with an Energy Star rating would yield significant savings in electricity? Is this true or was I misinformed? Surely it would save some energy but would the savings be significant enough to warrant buying a new fridge?



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Your kWh cost may be double or half someone else's. Or triple. So your savings are a guesstimate until you tell us your energy cost.
I did a search on "commission industry initiative cooperation appliance energy reduce" but I didn't find the historical overview I was looking to see again, which had explained to me how the changes happened to occur across the entire industry starting in the 1980's. It was an objective review of progress made in the industry, and it showed how the progress happened by implementing rewards (award-of-merit competitions, incentives, joint studies, reports, joint initiatives) and without penalties or legislation outlawing things.

Between twenty years ago and today there is a big difference in kWh used in fridges. Today some full-size fridges use only a few hundred kWh annually: i.e. One kiloWatt-hour per day. For some people that is pennies a day, and the flat-screen TV might now be the biggest energy hog in the house.

For a few dollars you can buy a meter that you plug into your wall outlet and then plug your fridge into, and then know your real consumption which depends on your usage and where the fridge is in your house. Near a heat source or near the sun, it uses "twice as much" energy as in a cooler or darker spot.

About ten years ago fridges were already much improved from before. Today's fridges are much better still. The difference could be 2 to 1 all over again from ten years ago. We may never know for you case until you measure your fridge's consumption, because it may have been built using "old" methods for that time, or with the latest methods available at that time.

The FTC came out with Energy Guide labeling in the 1970s; it was like a predecessor to Energy Star. Both are voluntary participation initiatives. Go see the Energy Star ratings. Some fridges qualify for this rating but consume a lot more than others. They are ranked.

Combining the above variables and their range of uncertainty, I'd say you could save certainly more than $50 a year, probably more than $100 a year, and up to $200. It could be lower or higher. It is 00.005% possible that you would spend more on energy for a new fridge today. Remember that the EnergyStar label does not say how much it consumes, and it might consume a lot compared to another with the same label. Go see the listings. Measure your current consumption. Compare the two.

After you buy a meter that you plug into your wall outlet and then plug your appliance into, you can use it to know how much your other things cost you when they are on standby and when they are operating. Computers, TVs, instant Hot Water tanks, etc.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 9:20AM
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"Your kWh cost may be double or half someone else's. Or triple. So your savings are a guesstimate until you tell us your energy cost."

Yes, and for all the reasons you cite we also have no idea what energy costs of a new fridge will be in his particular situation, either. So knowing his usage won't help us much.

If we go on the high side of your estimate, $200/yr, it would take 5 years just to break even on a $1000 fridge. I'd say if it looks good and runs good as Joe says, keep it running. Kind of like swapping out cars just to save on gas mileage; it typically doesn't make fiscal sense. (Believe me, mine get 12 and 14 mpg and I did the math this past summer!)

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 9:56AM
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IMHO: I'd keep the old one if it's working well.

Finding a new one that's good quality and works the way it's supposed to is something of a carp shoot, no matter how much you spend.

The Energy Star ratings are not done very scientifically, so it seems like there is no certainty that they mean much.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 10:43AM
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I sure do think too that it is Not enough incentive to sell (at depreciated value) a working device (vehicle, appliance, window, house, etc) and buy a new one based on the sole trigger of expected operating costs going down.

Operating costs are A single factor, among a number of criteria.

"cruzmisl", post consumption and rate per kWh. When we multiply it out, we might have more to say.


    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 11:20AM
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The alleged big shift in energy-efficient fridges happened in 1992-93. I don't know if there actually was a big shift in mfg standards or if that's just when Energy Star ratings first came out; however, on the enviro websites that I also frequent, 1992-93 is noted as a cutoff point (e.g., "anything before then is worse than anything after then"). Anecdotally, my electricity bill has dropped about 20%, or about $10/month, when I replaced my small 1985 POS fridge that leaked cold air and had a death rattle hum with a bigger LG fridge. I'm attaching a link to an article on "how to green your fridge" that has more links.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Green your Fridge

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 2:23PM
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Electricity is high in my area. I replaced a 1989 model frig with a similar model, but with heavier insulation (the door is much thicker) in 2001. Our utility bill dropped $25/mo instantly. Obviously YMMV.

The best thing you can do for your old frig is to check the gaskets and replace them if they are worn. Easy fix to save energy. And keep the vents dust-free!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2008 at 3:18PM
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During the summer, a typical early-1990's refrigerator adds as much heat to your kitchen as a 1000 Watt heater running five hours a day.

An air conditioner removes this excess heat by consuming about half the energy consumed by a refrigerator. By producing less waste heat, an efficient fridge makes your kitchen more comfortable in the first place and reduces the cost of air conditioning in your home.

This can explain how the apparent savings measured at the outlet are only one piece of the total savings. Increase that cost by an additional 50% if you are in a climate that needs air conditioning. YMWV.


    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 11:36AM
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Great thread - thanks for all the helpful info!

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 1:11PM
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I briefly research this and on a 22 cu. ft refrigerator is is around 850 Kwatt vs about have of that for the same size. So my guess is that you will be saving around half depend on your Kwatt rating on your new refrigerator. It comes to around $40-$50 a year! Not really that much if you think about it! I just looked inside my refrigerators labels and found the energy rating on my 12 year old refrigerator.

I was in the market for a new one myself; but decided to wait for the new models in the hope that they will have one that is 35" wide and is counter depth too! Most of the new models start out at 35 1/2 to 35 3/4 for a 36" opening in new house construction marketplace. Those who have homes before 1990 will have to go down to the 33" category which is quite smaller refrigerator. The U.S. manufacturers have all seem to taken effort to help remodelers. I spoke with a handyman and he said that it is almost now impossible to fit new refrigerators in older homes without downsizing the refrigerator. I hoping some of the foreign brands like Panasonic will offer the same sizes as in Europe to the U.S. market - 34" and 35".

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 7:33AM
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There is a site that lists the energy consumption for all refrigerators, so that you can compare them, and it also explains exactly how to figure the energy consumption of your old appliances, so you can compare those as well. This will make it very clear for you whether you should purchase a new appliance or not based on the energy efficiency

Go to

Here is a link that might be useful: More Energy Savings

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 3:53PM
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hover2gb - I'll wish you all the best and I hope the site you mentioned improves greatly in the coming weeks and months. You referenced it here and in other threads earlier today.

Today is the first day you joined here. I won't be going back to your site until I read here that it has fewer ads.

Here is a link that might be useful: Let's discuss what would be ideal Next Generation Energy Star

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 9:17PM
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Keeping the vents in your fridge clean and free of dust so that air flow is unimpeded will contribute to energy conservation.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2008 at 9:20PM
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The fridges that I am looking at buying consume 30 kWh per month.

Today I noticed that my fridge has an EnerGuide sticker saying it consumes 143 kWh per month when used as directed.

It probably consumes (a lot) more than that, in 2009, after running for 26 years.

When I replace it my annual savings will be the cost of 1500 kWh multiplied by average cost, more or less.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2009 at 11:20PM
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You should take your own advice and put your frig on a power meter. Then you will know for sure the power usage and you can check out the new one too. I haven't looked at the test for frigs, but some other enerystar tests may not be representative of true usage given the assumptions they make.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 8:35AM
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The fridge is now at the recycling center. It was never necessary for me to know details. That this old fridge used a lot of energy is all I needed to know. Within a few months i will be able to compare my monthly power bill. This gives an order of magnitude. Assuming other habits remain the same, after 12 or 24 months I can see an average drop. A power meter at the plug is just-for-fun; it's too much detail if you already know the answer and you aren't trying to find out.

We ordered our new fridge before today but it is not here yet.

The old fridge is (was) on a pedestal 18" above the floor.
To move it to get to its plug would have required a major operation of muscle power.
Don't feel like calling my friend(s) in for that.
Hope this explains why i never got around to its measuring power consumption.
We knew it was a power hog anyway, and moving it was a bear.
Hope you don't mind my guessing that a fridge is less efficient when 26 years old than when new.
Hope you don't mind my not measuring my own consumption although I did respond to someone else's query "how can we know" by saying they can measure power at the plug with a meter.

I have a power meter. Someone in my household misplaced it. One day it will pop up. I intend to use it for the new fridge and for other things. Just to satisfy curiosity.


    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 3:09PM
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My electric rate is $0.12/KWH.

143KWH/month is $17.16.

30KWH/month is $3.60

That's a substantial $13.56 difference.

If the new box costs $1000, it takes 73 months (6 years) to get back the $1000 before payback begins. And that assumes the new box won't need any (expensive/electronic) repairs along the way. But, of course, power costs will be ever-increasing.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 3:46PM
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I just unplugged my neighbor's 60 (yes 60) year old fridge. It was running and very quiet, but the door gasket was very hard and cracked. I am assuming she will save quite a bit in energy. I know of another similar unit. I am going to try to talk the owner into getting rid of it.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 9:39PM
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