Fridges & freezers
These days, fridges and freezers come in various configurations, shapes and sizes with many households having more than one of each. These appliances can be silent energy suckers, follow our tips to help you to stop your fridge and freezer putting the bite on your budget.
Energy sense tips
- Set your fridge to between 3° C and 4°C and set your freezer to between minus 15°C and minus 18°C.
- Position your fridge and freezer away from direct sunlight to keep them as cool as possible.
- Leave a gap around your fridge and freezer to let air circulate around the condenser and remove the hot air produced.
- Keep the fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep the cold air in. Plus, keeping them full will use less electricity to re-cool after you close the door.
- Look for compartmental temperature control if available, allowing you to set different temperatures in certain sections of the fridge.
- Defrost your freezer regularly if it requires manual defrosting, to keep it running as efficiently as possible.
- A well stocked fridge is energy efficient, but don't overstock shelves or put hot food in your refrigerator. Leave about 20% space for the air to circulate.
- Switch off your second fridge or freezer when it's not needed and leave the door ajar. Turning off your second fridge can save you between $100 and $200 a year1.
- Check the door seals are clean and tight. Loose seals mean you're losing cold air through gaps, so you'll need to replace them.
- Upgrade your fridge or freezer. Really old ones can be extremely inefficient, costing you hundreds of dollars to run each year. Remember when shopping for a new appliance to look for the stars and purchase an energy efficient model with a high energy star rating. For instance, a 3.5-star fridge instead of a 1.5-star fridge could save you a cool $150 a year2.
- Look for a high Energy Rating label if buying a refrigerator.
About star ratings
The Energy Rating Labelling Scheme is a national program to support the development and supply of energy efficient appliances by providing clear and objective information.
This information is intended to help customers understand the energy requirements and running costs of different appliances and help them to choose an appliance which best meets their needs.
When buying a new fridge or freezer, check the energy rating label. These labels provide a comparative assessment of the appliance's energy efficiency and typical annual energy usage (in kilowatt hours per year).
For more information on energy labelling visit the Energy Rating Labelling Scheme website. Here you’ll also find a handy Energy Rating Calculator where you can compare the consumption and running costs of various appliances by brand, star rating or energy consumption.
Types of fridges & freezers
If you're buying your first fridge or freezer or think it's time to upgrade your old ones, there are now many different types of fridges and freezers available to suit your needs.
Whichever you choose, you'll need to ensure it's appropriately sized for the space available and the number of people in your household.
Top mount fridge/freezers
These models have the most common fridge/freezer design with the freezer section located at the top and the fridge section below.
This design is typically cheaper to purchase than other types of fridge/freezers and more energy efficient. The freezer section is located away from the unit's compressor that generates heat and is easier to keep cool. It also harnesses the natural flow of convection to more efficiently supply cold air to where it's needed.
Bottom mount fridge/freezers
Also known as upside down fridge/freezers, these models look similar to top mount fridge/freezers, except with the fridge section located at the top and the freezer section below.
In this configuration, the freezer section is located right next to the compressor which generates heat. Bottom mount fridge/freezers are typically less energy efficient than top mount fridge/freezers as they use more energy to keep the freezer section cold and supply cold air into the fridge section.
French door fridge/freezers
Increasing in popularity because of their wide shelf space and functionality, most French door fridge/freezers have a double-door fridge section above with a pull out freezer drawer below.
However, they are typically less energy efficient than both top mount and bottom mount fridge/freezers.
Side by side fridge/freezers
These models offer a full-height fridge and freezer sections located next to each other, with a narrow freezer section and wider fridge section. Many feature ice and water dispensers located on the outside of the freezer door, however they require more energy to run.
Pigeon pair fridge and freezer
A pigeon pair consists of a separate full-sized fridge and full-sized upright freezer that stand next to each other. The fridge component of the pair can be particularly energy efficient, without the higher energy demands of a freezer section within the same unit.
Pigeon pairs tend to require a lot of space, but unlike with side by side models, you have the option of not putting the two components next to each other.
These freezers are full-sized units which open outwards like a standard fridge, with drawers or shelves which provide easier access to goods than a chest freezer. Most models are frost-free, however this means they can be less energy efficient and more expensive to purchase than a chest freezer.
Chest freezers are built like a tub with a hinged door opening from the top. They are usually well insulated and their design means cold air doesn't escape as much as upright freezers when the door is opened.
They are usually more energy efficient and less expensive to purchase than upright freezers, however their design means access to items can be difficult and most models require manual defrosting.
1. Based on a 3.5 star family-sized fridge.
2. Based on a comparison of energy usage for a 1.5 star and a 3.5 star family-sized fridge.