Fridges and freezers

Modern fridges and freezers are much more energy efficient than models made 10 years ago. A modern family fridge/freezer with a 3½ star energy rating label costs around $100 per year to run. A 10-year-old fridge of the same size could cost twice as much.

Choosing a fridge and freezer

You can cut down on running costs by choosing the right fridge or freezer for your needs. There are a number of factors to take into account. 

Size

Consider the number of people in your household - how often do you shop and entertain? Don't buy a bigger fridge/freezer than you need, but also remember that if you overfill your fridge/freezer is has to work harder to stay cooler. It’s more efficient to run one large fridge/freezer than two small ones. 

Model

Fridge/freezers with the top and bottom configuration are often more energy efficient than a side-by-side arrangement.

Shape

Most upright freezers have auto defrost features, which are convenient but use more electricity. Chest freezers are slightly more efficient than upright models, but you have the inconvenience of needing to defrost them, as well it being harder to organise your food. 

Water and ice dispensers

Through-the-door features such as cold water dispensers and ice-makers use more electricity, so cost more to run.

Fridge energy labels

Look for energy rating labels to compare fridges and freezers. 

  • If you’re comparing similar sizes and types - use the stars on the energy rating labels. The model with the most stars is the most efficient.
  • If you’re comparing different styles or sizes - for example a larger fridge with a smaller fridge-freezer, look at the energy consumption figures on the label. The model with the lowest consumption will be the cheapest to run.

Choose an ENERGY STAR® qualified fridge or freezer for superior energy efficiency. ENERGY STAR qualified fridge/freezers use up to 40% less electricity than non-qualified models.

 Energy rating labels

 ENERGY STAR qualified products

 

Video - ENERGY STAR qualified fridge/freezers use up to 40% less energy

Smart use of fridges and freezers

Set up

  • Don't put your fridge next to the oven - or in direct sunlight.
  • Make sure there's an air gap all around it - check the manual to find out how big it needs to be.
  • Check that the temperature is set correctly - freezers should be between -15°C and -18°C, fridge compartments should be 2°C to 4°C. You can buy fridge thermometers to check temperatures.

Maintenance

  • Clean and check the door seals regularly - try putting a piece of paper in the seal and closing the door. If the seal is working properly, it will hold the paper firmly. 
  • If your fridge doesn't auto defrost - make sure you defrost as required (when the ice build-up is more than 2cm thick).
  • If your fridge has coils on the back - dust them every year.
  • When you’re away for a long period - turn off, empty and clean your fridge, and leave the door ajar.

Day to day use

  • Allow food to cool before putting it in the fridge - but don't let it sit at room temperature for too long (this could be a health risk). 
  • Try not to open the door too frequently - and don't leave the door open for long intervals. 
  • In freezers, food packages should be scattered - and should not be grouped or stacked so they freeze together.

Recycling your fridge and freezer

Old fridges and freezers are inefficient and can cost you 2 to 3 times more than running a new fridge. It's time to pull the plug on your old fridge if:

  • it’s more than 15 years old
  • it runs continuously to maintain the right temperature
  • it no longer reaches the right temperature - fridge compartments should be around 2°C to 4°C,  freezers between -15°C and -18°C.

Recycling your old fridge is better for the environment because it avoids adding harmful material to landfills. Your local council may offer fridge recycling - some landfills accept fridges that are degassed (you may have to pay a fee) and recycle them for the metal they contain.