Cost Of Running A Refrigerator [9 Cost Saving Tips + Most Efficient Revealed]

Last updated: January 28, 2024.

How much electricity does a fridge use? You’ll find out here. Plus you’ll see how much it costs to run a refrigerator (US & UK), and you’ll get 9 cost saving tips.

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?

Reader request: the most energy efficient standard sized fridge consumes just 263 kWh of electricity annually, costing $34.19 p/y. The most efficient compact fridge with freezer consumes 201 kWh p/y, costing $26.13 annually.

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 typical 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, and compared to the running costs of an older fridge, you could experience a return on investment before 2 years.

But what about the most energy efficient refrigerators 2024?

Let’s take a look at the cost to run the most efficient units (combining all types).

First we need to see how much electricity they use.

How much electricity the most efficient fridges use

The most efficient fridges consume 106 kWh/yr to 554 kWh/yr, with 320.30 kWh/yr being the average.

This is based on nearly 600 ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators (regardless of type).

Most refrigerators typically consume energy within a narrower band, as indicated by the dense central region of the distribution. The histogram below illustrates this distribution, showcasing the frequency of refrigerators across different brackets of energy usage.

Image showing the breakdown of how much electricity the most efficient fridges use. The results are: 106 kWh/yr to 554 kWh/yr, with 320.30 kWh/yr being the average.

This visualization aids in understanding the prevalence of specific energy use levels and highlights the concentration of typical values within the dataset of the most efficient models.

Cost to run the most efficient fridges

It costs $13.78 to $72.02 per year to run the most energy efficient fridges – $41.64 is the average.

This is based on a unit rate of $0.13.

But let’s look at the most efficient fridge.

The most energy efficient fridge

The most energy efficient standard sized fridge consumes just 263 kWh of electricity annually, costing $34.19 p/y.

This unit, the Summit FF1119B, received the coveted “ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2024” label.

The price, features, etc., can be found here.

But smaller, compact units consume less energy.

A full breakdown of these can be found here: Mini Fridge Wattage [1,494+ Units | Most Efficient Revealed].

But for convenience, the most energy efficient compact fridge with a freezer is the Black + Decker BCRK17

This unit consumes 201 kWh p/y, costing an estimated $26.13 to run annually.

At 106 kWh p/y, the unit that consumes the least amount of electricity, in the most efficient category, is the small Dometic HiPro Evolution C40S minibar.

But these costs are just US based so, now, let’s take a quick look at UK costs.

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, as of writing, 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.

Eco impact

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.

Related: Mini Fridge Wattage [1,494+ Units | Most Efficient Revealed]

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