Here are seven rules of thumb that can keep your purchase of a replacement refrigerator from becoming a continuing drain on your pocketbook:
1) Don't buy a refrigerator bigger than you need. One rule is to choose a model that has 10 cubic feet of food storage for a family of two and then add an extra cubic foot for each additional person in the household. The freezer should be 40 to 45 percent as large as the food storage section. Thus a family of 4 will want to pick a model that is between16.5 and 17.5 cubic feet, and a family of 6 might choose a model that is about 20 cubic feet.
2) Side-by-side refrigerator/freezers use more energy than units with the freezer above or below the fresh food compartment. Side-by-sides also take up more space for the same storage volume.
3) Through-the-door features, like cold water or automatic ice dispensers, impose as much as a 20 percent penalty in increased electricity usage as compared to similar models without these extras.
4) Manual defrost models use less energy than automatic defrost units, consuming as much as one-third less. However, you should defrost the freezer when 1/4 inch of frost has accumulated.
5) Two refrigerators use more electricity than a single large refrigerator with equivalent storage space. And it is never a good idea to keep a half empty "his" refrigerator in the garage with beer and soda, while a "hers" refrigerator is in the kitchen with room to spare.
6) Don't let an old, inefficient refrigerator pass onto the used appliance market - recycle it for parts only. If your old refrigerator earns a negative investment return for you, it won't reward a family that must pay $50 or $80 on top of the hefty energy bills.
7)) Look for the Energy Star label. It is a quick and easy way to avoid paying for a mistake with each month's electricity bill.
|written by James Cavallo, Associate Editor of Home Energy Magazine and Principal at Kouba-Cavallo Associates in Downers Grove, IL.|
|This page was last updated on June 6, 2003|