Eco friendly refrigerators play an extremely important role in helping the environment and reducing your household’s energy consumption
According to the Canadian Government, the refrigerator is the 3rd heaviest consumer of power amongst household appliances.
It is one of the few appliances that is running 365 days a year, increasing the importance, whenever possible, to have an eco friendly refrigerator in your household.
For 2006, the most recent year of analysis, the Canadian Government estimated the typical refrigerator consumes 694 kilowatt hours per year.
A new eco friendly refrigerator in 2006 was estimated to consume 481 kilowatt hours per year.
The energy consumption of refrigerators has improved steadily year over year.
In 1990, the average Canadian refrigerator consumed a whopping 1525 kilowatt hours per year making it the heaviest consumer of power amongst household appliances.
How old is your refrigerator or freezer?
Do you have a second fridge or freezer in the basement?
An old refrigerator or freezer can easily be $150 more expensive to run than a comparable sized Energy Star appliance.
Think about it, you are wasting $750 over 5 years.
With eco friendly refrigerators costing as little as $600 to $800, the energy savings can pay for your new refrigerator in no time at all.
Here are some important tips to consider when shopping for a new refrigerator
- an automatic ice maker can use up to 20% more electricity than the same model without the ice maker. Use the good old fashioned ice cube trays and save some money while saving the environment
- It is extremely important to pick the right size refrigerator. An extra large refrigerator, even if it is an eco friendly model, will still likely use more energy than a small to medium size standard model
- top freezer refrigerator models are the most energy efficient type of refrigerator; bottom freezer models are next best; side-by-side refrigerators are the least energy efficient
Whether are not you purchase an eco friendly refrigerator, looking at the EnerGuide Label is a great starting point when shopping for a new refrigerator.
What is the EnerGuide label?
The EnerGuide label is an initiative of the Canadian Government that allows the consumer to compare the energy efficiency and consumption levels of everyday items including personal vehicles, new houses, heating and cooling equipment and major appliances, including refrigerators. By law, the EnergGuide label must be placed on all new electrical appliances manufactured or imported into Canada.
The EnerGuide label provides useful information such as:
- average annual energy consumption of that appliance in kilowatt hours (kWh)
- annual energy consumption range for similar type and size models
- energy efficiency of the appliance relative to similar models
- the type and size of the model
If you are in the market for an environmentally friendly refrigerator, a great staring point is an Energy Star refrigerator.
What is Energy Star?
Energy Star is an international symbol of energy efficiency. In Canada, Energy Star is administered by Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency. In order for a product to be classified as part of the Energy Star program it must meet and exceed minimum Canadian federal energy efficiency standards
according to a prescribed performance level for each product area. In simple terms, Energy Star products are the most efficient in their class.
Energy Star Refrigerators
Energy Star refrigerators have high efficiency compressors, improved insulation and defrosting features that help improve the energy efficiency. Energy Star refrigerators include models with automatic ice makers and through-the-door ice dispensers and Energy Star qualified models are available in top freezer, bottom freezer, and side-by-side versions
There are 39 different manufacturers that have refrigerators that have qualified for the Energy Star label in Canada. GE has the most models of refrigerators that have received the Energy Star label with 210 different models followed by Kenmore with 152 different models that have received the Energy Star label.
Best Eco Friendly Refrigerator Usage Practices
Whether you currently own an eco friendly refrigerator or not, these tips and habits will help ensure you don’t waste energy.
- Cleaning the coils at the back of your refrigerator is extremely important. Vacuuming the coils once every 3-4 months is recommended. Please ensure you unplug your fridge when cleaning.
- Get in the habit of checking the door seals. Test with a dollar bill- if the bill can be easily removed while the door is closed than its time to replace the seal.
- Monitor the temperature of the fridge and freezer. The ideal temperature is between 1 and 5 degrees centigrade for the fridge and minus 18 degrees centigrade for the freezer.
- Defrost the freezer regularly. Anymore than 6mm of build up in the freezer and it should be defrosted!
- Provide adequate spacing around the refrigerator. At least 6 inches (15 centimeters) is recommended, particularly at the rear where the coils are located.
- Pick an appropriate size refrigerator for your lifestyle. Having too large a refrigerator wastes energy cooling space you do not require.
- A fridge filled too full will block air circulation making the motor work harder to cool. An empty fridge will allow excess air to escape when the refrigerator is open.
- Don’t stand there with the refrigerator wide open.
- Keep the refrigerator away from heat sources such as dishwashers, oven and even direct sunlight from a window
- Older refrigerators often have an energy saving switch. Keep the switch in the on position. The switch being in the ‘off’ position turns on a heater which warms the doors to prevent moisture condensing on the outside of the fridge.
Picking the Right Size Refrigerator
When purchasing a refrigerator, it is extremely important to pick the proper size refrigerator to fit your lifestyle.
Too large a refrigerator and you will be wasting money and energy 365 days a year.
Too small a refrigerator you will become quickly frustrated trying to fit everything in.
Also, if your fridge is jammed packed, air circulation will be constrained and your fridge will have to work that much harder minimizing the eco friendly benefits or purchasing a smaller fridge.
Having a properly size fridge is a very important step if you are trying to have an eco friendly refrigerator in your house.
The inside capacity of refrigerators and freezers is measured in cubic feet. Here are some general sizing guidelines to help you when shopping for a new fridge.
- a small family typically requires 18 to 22 cubic feet
- a larger family typically requires 25 to 28 cubic feet
- another general rule is, a family of two requires a 16 to 18 cubic foot fridge and add 1 cubic foot for each additional person
It is also important to have proper spacing around the exterior of your refrigerator to ensure it is not working any harder than it needs to.
You should try and leave an inch or two of space on either side of the refrigerator and 5 to 6 inches at the rear
How to Determine the Size of Your Refrigerator
The easiest way to determine the size of fridge is to look in the owner’s manual if you still have it.
Remember that fridges and freezers are always measured in cubic feet.
Grab your tape measure and measure the height, width and depth of the interior of your refrigerator compartment (H x W x D).
Do the same thing with the interior of your freezer compartment.
Add these two numbers together to determine the interior size of your refrigerator.
When it comes time to get rid of that old refrigerator in your house, it is extremely important to ensure it is properly disposed of.
Refrigerators may contain chlorofluorocarbons commonly known as CFCs.
If the refrigerator is crushed prior to the CFCs being removed they will be released into the atmosphere resulting in damage to the ozone layer.
As well, major household appliances often contain oils that are harmful to the environment.
Many parts of a fridge can be recycled and the typical refrigerator will contain over 100 pounds of steel.
Recyling Programs and Incentives Canada
There can be significant cost and hassles incurred with recycling your refrigerator.
Thankfully, many municipalities and utility providers offer programs to subsidize or eliminate the cost of disposing your refrigerator in an eco friendly manner.
Some programs will even offer to pick up your old refrigerator from your house.
If you are lucky enough to live in one of the following Canadian provinces, there are programs in place where they will come and remove old refrigerators (and possibly other appliances) AND in some instances, they will even give you money for your old fridges and freezers.
Ontario: The Great Refrigerator Roundup
- Program is offered to residents of Ontario by the Ontario Power Authority
- In order to quality for the program, you must have at least one appliance in the “primary appliance” category
- Primary Appliance:
- between 10 and 27 cubic feet in interior size
- in working condition at the time of pickup
- 15 years or older
- located in a single-dwelling home, a townhouse or a duplex, triplex or four-plex building
- if you have a primary appliance, they will also pick up dehumidifiers and window air conditionersBritish Columbia: Fridge Buy Back Program
- BC Hydro will pick up your old fridge and give you $30 provided the fridge measures between 10 and 24 cubic feet and is still in working order.
- Program is offered in most municipalities in Quebec
- They will pick up to a maximum of two refrigerators or freezers provided they are:
- In working condition
- 10 years or older
- Between 10 and 25 cubic feet in interior size
If you do not live in one of the above provinces, the programs and services available to you will vary on a municipality by municipality basis.
Eco Friendly Refrigerators of the Future
The famous Albert Einstein actually came up with this idea and patented it back in the 1930s with his colleague Leo Szilard.
Scientists at the Oxford University have recently dusted off Sir Einstein’s old plans and are exploring a refrigerator that requires no electricity, has no moving parts and uses only pressurized gases to keep items cold in the fridge.
Another interesting trend with environmentally friendly refrigerators is the use of multiple cooling compartments.
The theory is that by being able to slide out small compartments one at a time, energy will not be wasted by letting out excess cold air out of the refrigerator.
Industrial designer Tez Patel has received critical acclaim for his eco friendly refrigerator with a multi drawer design.
The fridge is split into sections that are powered using thermoelectric modules that minimize energy consumption.
As well, the fridge has a fruit and vegetable drawer cooled by a water reservoir that consumes significantly less power than a standard refrigerator.
Some Eco Friendly Refrigerators
Here is a list of some industry best eco friendly refrigerators to help you get started with your own research.
Eco friendly refrigerators are available in many sizes and price ranges.
Bottom Freezer Refrigerators/French Door Refrigerators
Maytag Ice 2 O MFI2569VE
Top Freezer Refrigerators
GE Profile PTS22LHS
Side by Side Refrigerators
Kenmore Elite 463 658 703