Energy Saving vs. Conventional Refrigerators
An energy efficient refrigerator can save you cold, hard cash. Photo Credit: Travis Hornung
In the last 15 or so years, the rules regarding
refrigerators have changed dramatically. Since then, efficiency regulations
have gradually tightened to the point that the difference between a modern
energy saving refrigerator and a conventional fridge are monumental.
Incorporate an Energy Star qualified fridge into that equation and the gap only
Still, according to the Department
of Energy, U.S. households have 44.5 million refrigerators that are more
than 10 years old, and nearly one-quarter of those are more than 20 years old.
That amounts to a lot of energy inefficient refrigerators still in use and a
good reason to once again assess the difference between a new, Energy Star
fridge and its older counterparts. Upgrading a refrigerator is not just about
the environment, it goes hand in hand with saving money as well.
Energy Consumption Facts
refrigerators use at least 20% less energy than currently required by federal
standards (much less than 1990 rankings as is) and 40% less energy than
conventional models sold in 2001. Now think back to 1991 and know that new,
energy-saving refrigerators are using about half as much energy as their
predecessors were only 18 years ago.
Energy Saving Features
Energy saving takes nothing away from features. Automatic
ice-makers, through-the-door ice dispensers, and top, bottom, or side-by-side
freezers are all available in Energy
Star models, not to mention the sleek, modern design of new refrigerators
over the off-white sterility of many older fridges.
Many energy-saving refrigerators have features to aid in
that goal, such as alerts that sound should the door not close all the way,
special door design to ensure an airtight seal, digital temperature readouts,
Energy and Pollution
Refrigerators are a big deal among kitchen appliances and
most certainly the biggest energy consumer. They must work constantly to keep
food cold. According to the Energy
Star website, to replace a refrigerator bought in 1990 with Energy
Star-rated model would save enough energy to light the average household for
almost four months. Which, to a homeowner’s pocketbook, means nearly four
months of free electricity. It also means a slightly happier and less-stressed electric
grid and that much less pollution required to energize America.
What’s the Damage?
Energy-saving models are often more expensive than those
designed without energy saving in mind (in other words, those models just
meeting federal standards). Yet, as may be inferred from the above information,
that extra money up front is negated by energy savings down the line. Newer refrigerators
in general have better insulation and more efficient compressors—Energy Star
models even more so. The average refrigerator stays in primary use for around
15 years after purchase. Considering that Energy Star-labeled fridges use 20%
less energy than current federal standards, that energy-saving model will save
roughly 20% on its portion of the electric bill for 15 years. That is a number
that will almost always make up for any difference in cost.
Pay Now, Save Money and Energy Later
If this article seems like a promotion for Energy Star
refrigerators, that is only because there is very little reason anymore to
purchase a conventional refrigerator. Although even a refrigerator that just
meets today’s minimum efficiency standards will likely save a lot of energy
compared to the one being replaced. Still, a little extra money now (when
hundreds of dollars are to be spent regardless) will save significant energy
and money later.
As with most any appliance purchased in these
energy-apprehensive times, it is more an investment than anything. Gone are the
days when we can just buy an appliance and then forget about it. The average
homeowner has to pay more attention to energy bills than ever before.
Energy-saving refrigerators beat out conventional models hands down in every category,
including cost. They can also cool some of that sweat that appears on brows
nationwide when it’s bill time.
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