Cost Of Running A Refrigerator [9 Cost Saving Tips]

Last updated: January 12, 2023.

See how much it costs to run a refrigerator in the US and the UK. And get 9 simple tips to reduce your running costs along with your carbon footprint.

Your refrigerator runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 365 days a year. So you might expect that it consumes a lot of electricity throughout the year, costing you a small fortune. But how much power does a refrigerator actually consume?

A typical refrigerator will consume approx. 1.4kWh of electricity per day, or 41kWh per month. This works out at close to 500kWh per year.

500kWh per year is at the higher consumption level of Energy Star certified top mounted freezer refrigerators. Smaller compact refrigerators will consume less energy (approx. 150 to 350kWh per year), while larger side-by-side American style refrigerators will consume more (approx. 600 to 800kWh per year).

Older refrigerators can consume considerably more electricity, with standard 20 year old fridges consuming around 2,000kWh per year.

Ok, now we have a good idea about how much power a refrigerator consumes, so let’s take a look at how much it costs you to run.

Cost of running a refrigerator picture of woman in kitchen beside a fridge | Eco Cost Savings

How much does it cost to run a refrigerator in the US?

Taking the typical power ratings from the refrigerators mentioned above and the average cost per kWh in the US, 13 cents, we can easily work out the running costs per day, month, and year. 

Refrigerator typeConsumption (kWh)Annual costMonthly costDaily cost
Average top freezer refrigerator500$65$5.42$0.18
Typical efficient compact refrigerator200$26$2.17$0.07
Modern large side-by-side refrigerator800$104$8.67$0.29
Older large refrigerator2,000$260$21.67$0.72

The overall running costs may not seem substantial, but they do add up over the year. It is 4 times more expensive to run an older large refrigerator compared to an average, relatively modern top freezer refrigerator.

The potential cost savings are even more considerable if you look for ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators.

For example, an best seller that’s Energy Star certified is the 312kWh p/y Galanz Retro Refrigerator with Freezer. Per year, this would cost $40.56 to run, which is over 5 times less than the cost to run an older model.

Another popular ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator is the 325kWh “homeLabs 4.6 cu. ft. Refrigerator with Freezer”, which costs $42.25 to run per year. 

At the current price of $389.99, and compared to the running costs of an older fridge, you could experience a return on investment before 2 years.

But that’s just the US, now let’s take a quick look at the UK.

UK refrigerator running costs?

Again, let’s take the typical power ratings of the fridges mentioned above, and the average cost per kWh but for the UK this time (17p according to Statista), and work out the daily, monthly and yearly running costs.

Refrigerator typeConsumption (kWh)Annual costMonthly costDaily cost
Average top freezer refrigerator500£85£7.08£0.24
Typical efficient compact refrigerator200£34£2.83£0.09
Modern large side-by-side refrigerator800£136£11.33£0.38
Older large refrigerator2,000£340£28.33£0.94

In the UK, the difference in running costs between the refrigerator types are even more noticeable – the costs are quite a lot more compared to the US. 

But the good thing here is that the consumption amounts noted above are averages, so more modern energy efficient appliances will cost less to run. 

Taking the same 325kWh best seller, in the UK, if running an older large refrigerator, the return on investment could be experienced in just over 1 year.

This is, however, an example of extremes. You’re not likely to be running an older large fridge and looking to upgrade to a smaller more energy efficient appliance. But in general, you should consider upgrading as you’ll likely save money in the long term. 

So, what other cost saving opportunities are there when it comes to refrigerators? Let’s take a look.

9 simple tips to reduce the cost of running your refrigerator

  1. Keep your refrigerator away from heat sources. Fridges next to heat sources need to use more power, and therefore money, to keep their internal temperature low. So keep your refrigerator away from cookers, microwaves, radiators, and even windows in hotter climates.
  2. Give your fridge some space. We’ve all seen it. The top of the fridge becomes a shelf, pilled with cereal, tea bags and fruit. Unfortunately, it’s even a tempting spot to put a microwave. Don’t do this. While it is practical, try not to stack items on the top of your refrigerator. And try to give at least an inch of space around it. Ensuring a good airflow around your fridge will help keep your costs low.
  3. Don’t put warm food in your fridge. Let it cool first so your refrigerator doesn’t have to work so hard. Putting warm food in a fridge will increase the internal temperature. This will cause your refrigerator to consume more power as it works brings the temperature back down again. Leaving warm food out to cool beforehand will help you avoid increased running costs. 
  4. Check the seals on your doors. Over the weeks, months and years, wear and tear can cause refrigerator door seals to crack, warp and lose effectiveness. Cool air can then escape, which means your refrigerator may be using more power than it should when trying to maintain a set temperature. So check the seal around your fridge to ensure that cool air is not escaping.
  5. Don’t over-cool your fridge. Find the temperature that keeps your items sufficiently cool for you. Overcooling is a waste of energy and money.
  6. Keep the coils clean. Check the coils at the back for dirt or dust. The coils transfer heat away from the fridge. So any build up on the coils will limit heat transfer. Build up on the coils reduces the efficiency of your appliance and, as a result, increases costs.
  7. Don’t open the door unnecessarily. Most of us have been there. Regularly checking the fridge mindlessly, hoping that something new has appeared. Everytime you open the fridge, warm air enters, and the fridge needs to use more power to reach the set temperature.
  8. Just power what you need. If you’re considering upgrading get a fridge that is appropriate to your needs. Don’t waste money on an oversized refrigerator or a separate fridge and freezer that are half empty. Reducing the size of your refrigerator will reduce your running costs. If you’re considering downsizing, top mounts (freezer on top) tend to be more energy efficient. 
  9. Consider switching energy provider. Reducing the cost per unit of electricity will reduce the cost of running your refrigerator. If you’re out of contract, consider shopping around for a cheaper kWh rate. Energy providers typically have great offers aimed at enticing new signups.

Final thoughts

You may be surprised that it’s so cheap to run an average refrigerator for a day. At just 18c, it costs more to run a space heater for just 1 hour.

This 18c per day adds up to a considerable amount over the years, so be sure to use the energy saving tips to help keep your costs low. This will help the environment too.

If everyone in the US alone used refrigerators that are more efficient (according to Energy Star), 9,000,000,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions would not enter our atmosphere each year.

That’s equivalent to 10,129,854,417 miles driven by a standard passenger vehicle.

Or, to put it another way, it would take 5,331,335 acres of US forest 1 year to remove the emissions produced by inefficient refrigerators.

So a more efficient fridge is not just better for your pocket, it’s better for the environment.