No kitchen is complete without a refrigerator. But did you know that your fridge may be adding a hefty charge to your energy bill? It might surprise you how much it costs to keep your food fresh. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to increase your fridge’s energy efficiency.
It’s important to calculate how many watts your refrigerator uses to understand its burden on your electric bill and what you can do to lower costs.
The average home refrigerator uses 350-780 watts.
Refrigerator power usage depends on different factors, such as what kind of fridge you own, its size and age, the kitchen’s ambient temperature, the type of refrigerator, and where you place it.
Different types of fridges have different power requirements. For example, a new Energy-Star certified refrigerator runs up to 9 percent more efficiently than other models — and significantly more so than older appliances. Small, mini-fridges require less power than full-sized kitchen refrigerators. Additionally, top-mount fridges are more energy efficient than their side-by-side counterparts.
If you’re wondering about the electricity costs that come from your fridge, there’s an easy way to calculate this power consumption. To determine the wattage of your refrigerator, look at the sticker inside your fridge and search for the number of volts and amps. Multiply these numbers to determine how many watts your fridge uses.
For example, an old refrigerator could have a 115 V and 6.5 amps, for a total of 747.5 watts. A newer Energy Star-certified fridge, on the other hand, might have 117 V and 3.3 amps, for a wattage of 379.5 watts.
However, refrigerators have a significantly lower running wattage because they cycle on and off throughout the day. As a rough estimate, you can divide the wattage you calculated by 3 to estimate the running wattage.
Now that you have the wattage of your refrigerator, it’s easy to estimate your electricity costs.
Here’s an example of the math broken down:
750 watts / 3 = 250 watts per day
250 watts x 24 hours = 6,000 watts
6,000 watts / 1,000 watts = 6 kilowatt hours
6 kWh x $0.10 per kWh = $0.60 per day
In the example above, the refrigerator costs $0.60 per day to power, which comes out to $18 a month or $219 per year.
If you live in a place where power outages are frequent, or you’ve lost power due to a storm, you may be considering a generator to power your refrigerator. But before you plug in the generator, here’s what you need to know.
First, as outlined above, you need to know how many watts your refrigerator uses. To start your generator, the motor needs more power to start than it does to run. For example, your 750-watt fridge may have a startup wattage of 1,200 watts. In this case, a 1,500-watt generator would be able to run your refrigerator. Confirm the startup wattage in your manufacturer’s manual.
A 5,000-watt generator should provide more than enough power to run a refrigerator, with power left to spare. Most home refrigerators need around 2,000 starting watts of power.
Depending on the wattage of your refrigerator, a 2,000-watt generator should power most home fridges. Be sure to check your fridge’s wattage and starting wattage beforehand to avoid accidentally overloading the generator.
It’s possible for a generator to damage a refrigerator, though it is not typically a sensitive appliance. Your fridge could overheat if your generator is too small to handle its starting wattage.
You can decrease your refrigerator’s power usage through proper maintenance and a few simple habit changes. Here are a few ways you can be more energy efficient with your refrigerator.
Do your best to avoid gazing longingly into the refrigerator to decide what you want for a snack. Leaving the door open let's cool air out and warm air in which causes the fridge to work harder to maintain its normal temperature.
New, Energy Star-certified fridges run much more efficiently and use less energy than older models. Investing in a new fridge can pay off on your electric bill.
It’s normal for the condenser coils to clog and pick up dust and pet hair. However, when this happens, the condenser has to work harder, which consumes more energy and could lead to expensive maintenance work.
If you set up your refrigerator near heat sources or sunlight, it needs to work against the elements to keep the contents cool which eats up valuable energy.
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