‘It doesn’t keep things cold any more’ is not necessarily the right answer. From an energy consumption standpoint, the biggest sign you should replace your fridge is hanging on the wall: a calendar!
Improvements every year
Energy consumption by refrigerators has been declining by about two percent every year for at least the past 40 years. A refrigerator bought today will use about 25% of the energy used by a fridge purchased in 1975. Since only air conditioning uses more household energy than fridges, that’s very significant.
The improvement in energy consumption is due to many things.
Insulation breakthroughs like vacuum insulating panels provide good thermal resistance while remaining very thin. A vacuum insulating panel is a metallic envelope containing air that is vacuum sealed. Improvements in the engineering of heat exchange coils also contribute to today’s improved machines. Better and more energy efficient compressors are reducing energy consumption, too, and that introduces us to an interesting bit of history…
One of the most efficient was one of the oldest
The Model T of refrigerators was the General Electric monitor-top model, first manufactured in 1925. Millions were sold, and you may have seen images of them in old films. The compressor was on the top of the cabinet, and because this dissipated heat away from the fridge, the monitor-top was one of the most energy efficient fridges ever built. Insulated with corrugated cardboard and having a storage capacity of just under 200 litres, the monitor-top had annual energy usage of 250 kWh. Compare that to today’s monster 700 litre fridges, which use around 400 kWh per year.
See the many new features at our auction
Come browse the many cheap fridges we have at one of our weekly Home Renovator Auctions. You may even find a newly built model with a compressor on top; this type of design is being used again in modern fridges. If you’re energy conscious, keep a look out for an Energy Star label. It indicates that the fridge is in the top 20 percent for energy performance in its class, but remember, there are many classes and the total estimated annual energy use is even more important.
For example, a 570 litre with side-by-side freezer and ice-through-the-door model could get an Energy Star label with consumption of 608 kWh per year. The same size fridge with no ice-though-the-door and a top-mounted freezer would not be Energy Star even though its energy consumption might be as low as 379 kWh per year.
Spend your money on something other than energy
If you replace a 30-year old model, your energy savings could be enough to buy that new carpet you’ve been looking at.
Even if you ignore energy consumption, there are many good reasons to replace your fridge with a new one. Features of modern fridges include through-the-door ice, touch screen displays, glass doors, and even a beer tap. Come out to the auction and browse!