Do you know which appliance in your home uses the most energy?

A lot of people are surprised to learn that it’s often the fridge-freezer!

Because they are on all the time, a freezer actually uses more energy over the course of a year than your washing machine, tumble dryer or kettle. 

And as they get older and the seals start to go or they lose a bit of their refrigerant gas, they use progressively more energy to keep things cold.  It’s not obvious, because they still “work”, but they are using more and more energy to keep cold – and that can add up.  A new chest freezer might cost £100 a year to run, which is scary enough.  An old one could be costing over double that!

What Can You Do?

Firstly, if you have more than one freezer, think about whether you still need them all.  Maybe you had an extra in the garage when the children were at home, but now you just keep it out of habit? Could you empty it and turn it off?

Secondly, keep them maintained:

  • De-ice them regularly – a build up of ice will make them more inefficient
  • Check the seals, make sure they are clean and sealing well

Thirdly, if your freezer is more than 10 years old, check how much electricity it is using.  You do this by plugging in a device electricity monitor that measures the energy usage of a single device.  and compare with the expected electricity usage for that type of fridge freezer.  

New appliances are likely to use:

  • Under Counter fridge: 61 – 137 kWh     £20 – £47
  • Fridge freezer:  162 – 293 kWh               £55 –  £100
  • Chest freezer:  210 – 330 kWh                £70 –  £112

If your fridge or freezer is using much more than that, it may be time for a new one.

When buying a new fridge or freezer, it is very important to look at the energy label.  The new energy labels all have the number of kWh of electricity that that model is expected to use over the course of a year.  With energy prices so high it is worth choosing the most efficient model that you can. You can work out how much it will cost to run by multiplying the number of kWh on the label by the unit cost of electricity (currently about 34p per kWh, if you are on the standard tariff).

My fridge freezer is still working – surely it’s greener to keep it for longer?

I rarely advocate buying new stuff before your old stuff stops working.  The two exceptions are old-style incandescent lightbulbs and very inefficient fridge freezers.  If you have an old, inefficient fridge or freezer the energy you are wasting is likely to be more than the energy to build a new one.  Just make sure that you dispose of your old one responsibly so that the refrigerant gas can be recovered, because it’s a major greenhouse gas.

by Vanessa Richards

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