Fridge freezers: How to buy the best fridge freezer Energy efficiency
After central heating, refrigeration products are the biggest domestic users of energy and account for around 20% of the electricity consumed by domestic appliances.
So if you're looking for ways to lower your energy costs and reduce your home's environmental impact, your fridge freezer is a key appliance to consider.
How Which? tests fridge freezer energy efficiency
We've found that just looking at fridge freezer energy labels doesn’t tell the whole story – so we calculate our own running costs for each fridge freezer as an indication of its overall efficiency.
Running costs can be as little as £18 per year, but can stretch up to £100 depending on the model.
Find out how much individual fridge freezers currently on sale in shops will add to your electricity bills - as well as the best and worst performing models - using our fridge freezer energy cost calculator.
How fridge freezers compare
We compared two fridge freezer models, the Lec T5556 and the Bosch KGH33V03GB.
As you can see, running costs can differ between fridge freezers even when the fridge and freezer capacity is similar. While the Lec costs just £15 a year in electricity to run, the Bosch model – which is only slightly larger – costs £42 a year to run.
|Running costs of fridge freezers compared|
|Brand||Model||Fridge volume||Freezer volume||Annual running costs|
|Electrolux||ERN29600||167 litres||60 litres||£17|
|Siemens||KG34NX14GB||152 litres||75 litres||£54|
EU energy labelling for fridge freezers
The energy labelling of cold appliances has been in place for more than a decade, with ratings ranging from the ultra-efficient A++ to the positively power-hungry G classifications.
If your last fridge freezer was bought before September 1999, it could be anything up to a G rating, with no limit on how much energy it uses. So when you're ready to replace a fridge freezer, it's worth looking for those rated A+ or A++, as they're the most energy efficient and cheapest to run.
In future, consumers could see a new energy labelling scheme for refrigerators, freezers and fridge freezers which is currently being debated at EU level as part of the energy labelling directive.
Fridge freezer reliability and environmental impact
Determining the tipping point at which it's environmentally best to replace a working fridge freezer with a more efficient new one isn't straightforward – particularly when taking into consideration the environmental cost in disposing of your old fridge freezer, the materials and energy that go into producing a new appliance, and the carbon emissions generated during transportation.
Choosing a reliable fridge freezer model can help you get the most out of your appliance as well as minimising the environmental impact of disposing of and replacing your old fridge freezer.
Some refrigerators and fridge freezers carry labels claiming they are ozone friendly, but that's not always the whole story.
Many fridges use a cooling agent (or refrigerant) called R600a, which neither affects ozone nor is a significant greenhouse gas.
However, others use a refrigerant called R134a. This is better for the ozone layer than CFCs, which are now banned, but it's still a greenhouse gas and therefore still contributes to global warming.
Fridge freezer efficiency tips
- Buy a fridge thermometer Check the temperature from time to time – the thermostat dial should be set somewhere between 0°C and 5°C for your fridge, and an energy efficient -18°C for your freezer compartment.
- Opening Don’t open the fridge freezer more often than necessary, or leave the door open for long periods.
- Maintain Clean the fridge freezer regularly and keep the freezer compartment defrosted.
- Location Check the climate class of your fridge freezer to see which temperature your appliance will work best at – keeping it in an unheated garage or shed, for example, might mean it will break sooner.
Greener settings for fridge freezers
This setting is for when you're away from home for more than a few days. Activate the setting and, while you're away, the fridge will switch off and the freezer compartment will be set to the lowest (coldest) temperature.
On some models this lowers the energy used when you're not there and saves money. The only catch is you'll need to empty the fridge first or you'll spoil all the food.
This lets you know if food isn't cold enough, saving food that would otherwise go off.
External electronic control panel
Many fridge freezers have electronic/digital controls. These are a more convenient way of setting the fridge and freezer temperatures as you don’t have to open the fridge freezer door.
Recycle your old fridge freezer
Under the EU waste electrical and electronic equipment (Weee) directive, shops must help customers recycle old fridge freezers – along with a wide range of other electrical and white goods – either by paying towards white goods recycling facilities at a council site, or by offering a recycling service themselves.
When you're shopping, ask if the store will take away your old fridge freezer when it delivers your new one.
Alternatively, contact your council to find your nearest appliance recycling site, or to arrange for your old fridge freezer to be collected. Some councils offer free collection; others charge up to £30. Find out more about recycling in our essential recycling guide.
Or, if your fridge freezer still works, use a recycling scheme such as Freecycle to offer it to someone else.