Is your refrigerator more than ten years old? If so, replacing it can save you some serious money. The problem is can it save you enough to warrant shelling out the money for a new unit? A new refrigerator isn’t cheap, but an older one accounts for anywhere from 5-8 percent of your household energy.
The nonprofit advocacy group Alliance to Save Energy estimates that if the older refrigerators were replaced, Americans would save $866 million a year in utility costs. In general, a new efficient refrigerator uses about half the energy of its 10-year-old cousin, federal statistics show.
If you plan now, you might be prepared when the new federal stimulus bill funneling $300 million into rebates for energy-efficient appliances, is enacted. But be ready to act because with 112 million households in the country, that $300 million won’t go far.
How to know when to buy? Uncle Sam’s efficiency program, Energy Star, has a refrigerator calculator on its Web site: www.energystar .gov. All refrigerators manufactured in the United States must meet minimum efficiency standards, but Energy Star-certified models are at least 20 percent more efficient.
If you’re thinking of buying a new refrigerator, here are some tips from EnergyStar:
• Start with the calculator at www.energystar.gov.
• When shopping, factor in the appliance’s yellow “EnergyGuide” label listing the energy use and approximate annual operating cost.
• Go smaller. Larger models cost more to operate, and a full refrigerator is more efficient than a half-empty one.
• Models with top freezers are the most efficient, using 10 percent to 25 percent less energy than side-by-side models.
• Consider doing without the ice-maker and dispenser. These increase energy use by 14 percent to 20 percent.
To get the most out of any refrigerator:
• Position it away from heat – an oven or dishwasher. Leave room at the back and sides for air circulation.
• Keep the air intake and condenser coils clean.