With an ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator, you can maximize your energy and dollar savings without sacrificing the features you want. ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators are about 9 percent more energy efficient than models that meet the federal minimum energy efficiency standard. By properly recycling your old refrigerator and replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator, you can save more than $200 over the 12-year lifetime of the product.

ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators offer high performance features such as high-efficiency compressors that create less heat and use less energy, improved insulation that helps food stay cold, and temperature and defrost mechanisms that help the refrigerator operate more efficiently.

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What else should I look for when buying a refrigerator?

Consider buying a refrigerator with a top-mounted freezer. A top-freezer refrigerator that has earned the ENERGY STAR uses less energy than a 60-watt light bulb.

Purchase an appropriately sized refrigerator. Generally, the larger the refrigerator, the greater the energy consumption. The most energy-efficient models are typically 16-20 cubic feet.

Consider retiring the old refrigerator in your basement or garage. Refrigerators over 15 years old could be costing you more than $80 per year to run. If you need a second refrigerator year-round, replace the old one with a new ENERGY STAR certified. On average, an old refrigerator uses about 33% more energy than a model that has earned the ENERGY STAR.

Recycle your old refrigerator. If you buy a new refrigerator, be sure to recycle your old one. Many appliance retailers will pick up and recycle your old refrigerator when you purchase a new one.

Be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR when shopping for a refrigerator

Current Specification Effective Date: September 15, 2014

Refrigerators originally qualified for the ENERGY STAR label in June 1996. ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators are about 9 percent more energy efficient than models that meet the federal minimum standard for energy efficiency.

Refrigerators and Freezers Key Product Criteria: ENERGY STAR

Learn How a Product Earns the Label


Follow these guidelines to reduce the amount of energy your refrigerator or cooler uses:

  • Set the appropriate temperature.
    Keep your refrigerator at 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Refer to the product manual for appropriate temperature ranges for coolers.
  • Place your fridge in a cool place. 
    Position your refrigerator or cooler away from a heat source such as an oven, a dishwasher, or direct sunlight from a window.
  • Allow air circulation behind the fridge. 
    Leave a few inches between the wall and the refrigerator or cooler, and keep the condenser coils clean if you have an older model. Read the user’s manual to learn how to safely clean coils. Coil cleaning brushes can be purchased at most hardware stores.
  • Check the door seals.
    Make sure the seals around the door are airtight. If not, replace them.
  • Keep the door closed. 
    Minimize the amount of time the door is open.

Consider what type of refrigerant different models use. Some refrigerants are better than others when it comes to Global Warming Potential (GWP), i.e., the degree to which they contribute to global warming when released into the air.  R-600a and R-441a are low GWP refrigerants.  While information on refrigerant type is somewhat limited for older models, many new models provide the refrigerant type. Available information on ENERGY STAR certified consumer refrigeration product models is compiled here.

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