Refrigerators are responsible for approximately 14 percent of a home's energy use, more than any other kitchen appliance. The average refrigerator in 2002 consumed 1,281 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year, emitting 1,832 pounds of CO2—a leading contributor to climate change—annually..
Improving energy efficiency
In the past 20 years, advances in technology have cut refrigerator energy use by more than 60 percent. ENERGY STAR refrigerators are even more efficient, using at least 15 percent less energy than the maximum allowed by federal standards. Today, a new energy-efficient refrigerator that uses just 555 kWh of electricity per year would create 794 pounds of CO2 emissions per year, and cost just $44 to operate, compared to the $102 it would have cost to operate a refrigerator in 2002.
In general, the larger the refrigerator, the more energy it uses. But optional features, such as automatic ice makers, anti-sweat heaters, automatic defrost, and through-the-door water dispensers, further increase a refrigerator's energy demand.
All appliances, even energy-efficient refrigerators, only operate at peak efficiency when properly maintained and operated. Proper maintenance of you refrigerator and setting your refrigerator and freezer temperatures appropriately increase a refrigerator's energy-efficiency.
Subsidies and tax credits
In the US, the purchase of an energy-efficient refrigerator may qualify you for tax incentives at the federal, state, or local levels. For detailed information, see:
- American Council for an Energy-Efficiency Economy: Provides updates on potential energy legislation.
- Tax Incentives Assistance Project: Explains federal tax credits for energy efficiency.
- Alliance to Save Energy: Offers an index of energy efficiency programs by state.
- Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency: Provides information on state and federal incentives.
- Contact your utility provider for information on local offers.