Of course, purchasing an energy-efficient refrigerator is wise, especially considering the fact that refrigerators are among the highest energy-consuming appliances in the home. An energy-efficient model could save a bundle in the long run—up to $100 per month or more. Though typically more expensive to buy, energy-efficient models decrease your energy bills and increase your home’s resale value.
To calculate whether the cost is covered by your potential energy savings, look for the Energy Star label on any refrigerator you are considering. This label signifies that the appliance has met the strict energy-efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. The yellow tag, which states the kilowatts per year consumed by the refrigerator, can help you figure out how much it would cost to operate the appliance.
Size matters, too. Don’t buy a refrigerator that is far larger than you need. The bigger the refrigerator, the more energy it will require to cool. You will also need to consider how much storage capacity your family requires. Refrigerator storage capacity runs from about 18 to 28 cubic feet, which includes the space occupied by shelves and hardware. (Consumer Reports cautions that the actual usable capacity could be as much as 35 percent less than the storage capacity claimed by the manufacturer, particularly with side-by-side models.)
Couples or small families may find that a model with 18 to 22 cubic feet of storage will suit their needs, but larger families or those who enjoy entertaining will likely need more space. As a general rule, two people should have at least 10 cubic feet of refrigerator space, not including freezer space. Add 1 1/2 more cubic feet per additional family member.
And pay attention to the controls. Energy-efficient models have thermostats that allow you to select the exact temperature settings for both refrigerator and freezer compartments. To shop for energy-efficient refrigerators online, see Amazon.com.
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