Refrigerators and Freezers

Did you know that your household fridge could be one of the most costly appliances to run?

Is your existing fridge as old as the hills?  Is your freezer busy growing its own glacier?  Or have you got a 'refrigerasaur' out the back which is used just to keep a few drinks cold?  The fridge is the mainstay of our homes and is generally considerd an essential appliance. Refrigeration can however account for a surprisingly large slice of your electricity bill.  You might be surprised at how many households in Alice Springs have three or more fridges and freezers in their home and what it is costing them to keep these applicances  running. 

Replace your old refrigerator or freezer

Replacing your old inefficient refrigerator (like Leonard!) with a new energy efficient model can reduce your electricity usage by as much as 700kWh a year, a saving of around $200. Replacing an old inefficient freezer with a new energy efficient model can result in big savings for you. Some older freezers can cost as much as $330 a year to run, while many new models cost less than $130 a year.

How much does your fridge cost to run?

The most relevant indicator of the running costs of your fridge or freezer is the kilowatt hour (KWh) value, which can be found on the energy rating label of newer models. The KWh figure displayed is an indicator of how much electricity it will use over one full year of use under normal operating conditions (from our experience, fridges and freezers in Alice use 10-25% more than stated on the energy rating label). The more kilowatt hours, the more it will cost to run. For each KWh of electricity you use in Alice Springs, it costs you 25.83 cents (as of 1 Jan 2013).  A fridge that uses 500 KWh in a year will cost you approximately $140 to run for the full year, or about $35 per quarter.

Alice Solar City came across a 20 year old fridge which was used to keep drinks cold.  It was kept outside on the south side of the house and was well shaded and ventilated which helped to minimise running costs.  Alice Solar City attached a power meter to the fridge for a fortnight and calculated that the fridge draws 1060 KWh per annum. Based on the 2013 standard flat tariff, this is an annual cost of $295.

How to reduce your fridge running costs

  • Keep it closed - Each time you open the door, warm air gets in and increases thework the fridge needs to do.
  • Don’t set the temperature too low - A change of one degree can effect energyconsumption by 5%. Use a thermometer to check the temperature. Freezers shouldoperate at -15°C to -18°C while fresh food compartments should be held at around 3°C to 4°C.
  • Give it room to breath - Allow enough space for air to flow over the condenser coil at the back of, or under the fridge (follow your fridge manufacturer’s recommendations). Restricting ventilation could add 15% or more to the energy bill.
  • Lose the fluff - Clean the condenser coil and fan blades (if there are any) on a regular basis to preventdust/dirt build up, allowing greater efficiency of heat exchange. If you are not sure how to do this contact the manufacturer or your local refrigeration professional.
  • Keep it sealed - If your fridge’s door seals are not in good condition it will need to work harder, will increase ice build up and will cost you more to run.                                                                  
  • Pick your spot - Placing a fridge or freezer in direct sunlight or next to an oven or other heat source can increase energy consumption substantially.
  • Ice buildup in your fridge makes it harder for your fridge or freezer to operate effectively - defrost your unit when the ice is more than 5 mm thick.
  • Turn it off - when away for a longerperiod, turn off, empty and cleanthe refrigerator and leave the door ajar.
  • If you’re going to throw out your old fridge, ensure that is professionally de-gassed as part of the disposal. (De-gassing is included when disposing a fridge at the Alice Springs landfill).

Reconsider the way you use your second or third fridge  

Instead of having a second or third fridge or freezer adding to your energy bills, consider the following:

  • Do you really need lots of cold drinks on hand?
  • Is there room in your main fridge for your daily needs? A fridge will maintain its temperature better when it is full and be more economical to run.
  • Would an esky be suitable for your cold drinks on those occasions when needed?
  • Can you turn the second fridge off for most of the time and only plug it in when it is needed?

 Download the Alice Solar City Refrigerators & Freezers fact sheet here.