Buying a new refrigerator is a daunting task. But while you may be more focused on your refrigerator’s size, aesthetic, and storage capacity, there’s another variable you should consider: energy efficiency.

Kiwi Energy strongly believes every home should run as energy-efficiently as possible. Your fridge is a major player in that regard—it’s one of the few things in your home that is always on, so you’ll want to be sure it’s running efficiently. 

Here is your guide to buying an energy-efficient refrigerator.

What Are Energy-Efficient Appliances?

Energy-efficient appliances are products that use less energy to complete the job. LED lightbulbs are a great example. They have slowly replaced incandescent lightbulbs as the norm. Incandescent lightbulbs waste 90% of their energy by turning it into heat rather than light. LEDs take away that inefficiency, using 75% less energy to light your home.

Energy-efficient appliances have grown in popularity in recent years because of recent revelations as to how much energy Americans waste; according to some estimates, the United States wastes as much as 66.7% of produced energy.

Discover our energy-efficient plans for a more sustainable tomorrow. Experience a positive impact on both your wallet and the planet.

What Are the Benefits of Energy-Efficient Appliances?

While using energy-efficient appliances has some immediate advantages that help reduce your energy usage, many other benefits are harder for an individual to recognize. Here are all the benefits of using energy-efficient appliances, both seen and unseen.

  • Do more with less energy: Since your appliances use less energy, you’re reducing your overall energy consumption. The more energy-efficient appliances you purchase, the more you can do with less energy.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions: While your lightbulbs may not emit greenhouse gasses, the power plants your electricity comes from do. Most of the United States’ electricity is generated by natural gas and coal, producing environmentally-unfriendly emissions. By switching to energy-efficient appliances, you reduce the amount of electricity you use and, as a result, reduce the number of greenhouse gasses produced by your appliances.
  • Higher resale value: When it’s time to sell your old appliances, you can get much more money if they’re energy-efficient. Very few people will want an old refrigerator or other appliances if they will drive up their energy costs, so investing in traditional appliances is not investing in the future.

What Is an EEF Refrigerator?

An energy-efficient ratio (EEF) refrigerator refers to refrigerators with an EFF rating. The meaning of an EEF refrigerator’s rating is how efficiently it uses its power. The higher the rating, the more efficient the refrigerator.

An EEF rating comes from a mathematical formula, dividing total storage volume in liters by its energy consumption in kilowatt-hours per 24 hours (kWh/24h).

This is not to be confused with a Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) tier rating (which we’ll discuss in the next section). A CEE tier rating is a method of rating the energy efficiency according to Energy Star Standards (more on this in the next section).

What Are the Energy Efficiency Tier Ratings for Refrigerators?

The energy-efficiency tier ratings for refrigerators are what signify how efficiently the refrigerator will run. The CEE tier ratings for refrigerators are as follows:

  • Tier 1: The bare minimum rating to earn an ENERGY STAR rating, a program that promotes energy efficiency. While not the most efficient refrigerator you could buy, Tier 1 ratings signify that your refrigerator is in the top 25% of most energy-efficient appliances on the market.
  • Tier 2, 3, & 4: Higher tiers signify an increased level of energy efficiency, with Tier 3 and above generally being some of the most efficient products on the market.
  • Advanced Tier: If your refrigerator has an Advanced Tier energy efficiency rating, it is the most efficient product on the market. This is the equivalent of an ENERGY STAR Most Efficient rating.

Are High-Tier Products Worth It?

Products that are a higher tier are generally more expensive, so you may wonder if spending the money is really worth it. Fortunately, there is a way you can get some of your money back: rebates. 

If you choose higher-tiered appliances, you may be eligible for rebates that help you save even more money. Use the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder to see if your local energy provider offers rebates.

What Should You Look For in an Energy-Efficient Refrigerator?

Aside from energy efficiency tiers and ratings, are there other variables you should consider when looking for a refrigerator? The design of your fridge actually has an impact on its efficiency. Look for the following variables:

  • Freezer location: Refrigerators with top-mounted freezers are more energy-efficient than bottom-mounted freezers and side-by-side doors. The compressor circulates refrigerant but generates heat in the process. Therefore, side-to-side freezers must expend more energy to keep their compartment below freezing temperatures.
  • Insulation methods: Your fridge’s insulation can directly affect how efficient it is—the less cold air it lets out, the less energy it has to spend to maintain consistent temperatures. Some manufacturers are making newer fridges with thicker walls to help keep the cold in the compartment. They’re also creating fridge doors with tighter seals to avoid cold leaks.
  • Fridge size: Larger fridges require more energy to control their temperature. So while you may not want to get a fridge that’s too small for your home (you should always measure your space before you buy), don’t feel obligated to buy the biggest fridge you can possibly fit.

Build Energy-Efficient Habits

Finding the right refrigerator may take some research, but the energy savings you’ll experience are worth the extra commitment. But finding the most energy-efficient refrigerator for your home is just one way to make a more efficient home. Couple your efficient appliances with these energy-saving tips to really impact your energy consumption and the environment.