Neutral Axis

Refrigerator Energy Use

by on Apr.20, 2009, under Uncategorized

I’d always heard that refrigerators were a major energy user within the home, and decided to check mine against the modern norm.  The results were not what I expected.

My first step was to use my Kill-a-watt device to measure the electricity being consumed by my existing refrigerator.  its a GE 22 cu.ft. model from 1994.  When the refrigerator is running, it reads that the draw is 155W.  After the first 24 hours its reading 1.55 kWh total usage.  I intend to leave it on for at least another day, and possibly a week to get a representative reading [See update below].  But at this rate, it appears that it would be in the vicinity of 565 kWh per year.

That figure is surprising to me because a current Whirlpool GC3SHAXVS refrigerator with the Energy Star rating is estimated to use 557 kWh per year, according to its yellow energy sticker.  I can’t find any reference to its actual watt draw in any of its literature.  I think its unreasonable to expect that my 15 year old refrigerator is as efficient as a brand new Energy Star labeled refrigerator, so the yellow sticker must assume heavier use patterns than my refrigerator sees.

At any rate, based on my electricity cost and the one day electricity usage I’ve measured, my current refrigerator costs $0.113 per day to run ($41 per year.)  Lets be outrageously liberal and say that the Whirlpool Energy Star model runs for free.  If I replaced this refrigerator with that imaginary one, I’d save $41 per year.  The cheapest version of that Whirlpool model has a MSRP of $2200.  It would take 53.6 years for it to pay for itself in energy savings.  EcoHome magazine has an ad this month for a different Whirlpool refrigerator that runs at 60W with an annual usage rating of 509kWh.  That’s 39% of the usage of mine.  So 39% of $41 is $16.  I could save $25 per year for a payback period of 88 years.

It certainly doesn’t make economic sense to think about changing my current refrigerator until it dies, but I’ll continue to take additional readings to really make sure I have a handle on what energy I’m currently using.

[Update]  After one week of monitoring the average daily use is 1.90 kWh.  $0.139 per day.  $50.62 per year.

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