Chill Out with a New Refrigerator

Now is a good time to make the investment in a new ‘fridge.

By FamilyTime


The idea of a new refrigerator may not have crossed your mind—but maybe it should. Even if yours is humming along, keeping the milk cold and the ice frozen, models that are more than 10 or 15 years old are far, far less efficient than those available today.

If water seeps or drips from the freezer or the cold chest, it may be time to bid adieu to the old unit and welcome a spanking new one to your kitchen.

Today’s Refrigerators

Refrigerators today are different beasts from those of the last century. They may be taller and wider than the box currently in your kitchen. This means you may have to shop around to find a new one that will fit in the space between your cabinets.

If you are remodeling the kitchen, choose the refrigerator before you finalize the cabinetry and countertops. You may want to buy a ‘fridge with French doors that is wider than you’re used to. You may want a refrigerator that is flush with the countertops or that has glass doors. You can choose between side-by-side units, or those with the freezer on top of or below the cold chest.

Don’t buy a refrigerator that is larger than your family needs. Most refrigerators on the market offer between 18 and 26 cubic feet (this includes both the ‘fridge and freezer). A family of four requires about 22 cubic feet. Large families might do best with 27 cubic feet, although if you want anything larger, you will have to buy built-in appliances instead of free standing.

It’s advisable to buy a large refrigerator rather than two small ones. The multiple units consume more energy than a single one, regardless of size.

These days refrigerators are available in white, black, stainless and bisque (cream color). It’s not easy to find one in any other color, although red refrigerators are showing up in some companies’ product lines.

Efficiency, Efficiency

The most compelling reason to replace your existing refrigerator is to save energy. Today’s appliances use about 30 percent less electricity than those of yesteryear, and so over the lifetime of the refrigerator you will save a considerable amount. Modern manufacturers use far better insulation and more efficient motors and compressors. The result is a win-win for the consumer.

The best way to know your new ‘fridge will be efficient is to look for the Energy Star label. This is a government designation that guarantees the appliance exceeds minimum standards for energy efficiency.

Other things to consider in terms of efficiency include the configuration of the refrigerator and its extra features. For instance, through-the-door water and ice dispensers are great, if you will use them. If you don’t really care, give them a pass. Not only do they make the refrigerator a little more expensive, they use extra energy.

Refrigerators with side-by-side cold boxes and freezers are not as efficient as those that are stacked. However, you may find it helpful to see the contents of the freezer easily, as is possible when the freezer is vertical. A freezer that is below the refrigerator is a deep, drawer-like compartment that you have to dig through.

Look for refrigerators with adaptive defrost controls to adjust compressor time; separate cooling systems for the refrigerator and freezer; temperature-controlled bins and compartments; and double-tub construction and foam-in-place doors. All, if used properly, will help save energy and money.

Most of us opt for a self-defrost freezer, although those that need to be manually defrosted use less energy. However, if you let the frost build to a depth of more than a quarter of an inch, the savings is lost. 

Say Goodbye to the Old Refrigerator

While you may be tempted to put your old refrigerator in the basement or garage, it's not a good idea.

You will negate all the monetary benefits of the new ‘fridge if you keep the old one plugged in elsewhere. And a refrigerator half full of beer or leftover turkey is far less efficient than one nicely packed with cold food.

Selling your old refrigerator is an option, but you will simply be passing on its energy-gobbling habits to someone else.

The best solution is to recycle it. You can go to to find out about how to do so, or search the Internet for other sources. The appliance store that sells you your new ‘fridge may be able to help, too.