With an ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator or cooler, 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 about $230 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.

Coolers - commonly referred to as wine coolers and beverage centers - include built-in and compact models. ENERGY STAR certified coolers are up to 20% more efficient than models that meet the federal minimum energy efficiency standard.

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What else should I look for when buying a refrigerator? 

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 purchasing a refrigerator with a top freezer. Models with the freezer on top tend to use the least energy (versus bottom freezers or side-by-sides).

Consider buying a refrigerator with fewer doors. Fewer doors reduce the air leakage. To maximize your savings, minimize the number of doors and pay attention to cool air you can feel when you shut the doors. Make sure the seals around the doors are airtight. If they are not, replace them. 

Consider selecting a refrigerator with a lower Global Warming Potential refrigerant. Refrigerants with lower global warming potential (GWP) for refrigerators include R-600a and R-441A. Selecting an ENERGY STAR certified model with a lower GWP refrigerant means your product will have a much lower impact on the climate if the refrigerant is released into the environment. The GWP compares the warming power of a substance to an equivalent amount of CO2 (GWP = 1 for CO2). Some refrigerants are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are powerful greenhouse gases with GWPs hundreds or thousands of times higher than CO2. Find refrigerators that contain refrigerants with a lower impact on global warming here.

Consider replacing your old fridge and recycling your old second refrigerator. Refrigerators over 15 years old could be costing you more about $90 per year to run. If you need a second refrigerator year-round, replace the old one with a new ENERGY STAR certified. Make sure you keep your fridge in an ambient temperature of 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit. On average, an old refrigerator uses about 30% 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.

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Products that are recognized as ENERGY STAR Most Efficient deliver cutting edge energy efficiency along with the latest in technological innovation. They represent the very best for energy savings and environmental protection. Find Most Efficient refrigerators here

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

Current Specification Effective Date: September 15, 2014

 ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators are about 9 percent more energy efficient than models that meet the federal minimum standard for energy efficiency.

Consumer Refrigeration Products 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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