Energy efficient refrigerators are those that use less energy to run than do comparable standard models. Manufacturers focus on two primary areas when developing energy efficient refrigerators: insulation and compressor technology. Though there is no universally-accepted definition for what may constitute energy efficient refrigerators, some do receive special recognition as being particularly efficient.
In the United States, the Energy Star® program labels certain models as being more efficient than the competition. Models in the United States that are at least 20% more efficient than the average model receive the Energy Star® designation. Many other countries may have similar ratings for refrigerators, heaters, and air conditioners.
Energy efficient refrigerators are made to keep the cool air in as long as possible, and to cool the air more cheaply. Keeping the cool air inside means the motor has to run for less time and less often. To stop cool air leakage, refrigerator manufacturers look at several areas. Improving gaskets, installing better insulation, and using higher quality shell materials all help make more energy efficient refrigerators. Further, these refrigerators also often utilize the latest cooling technologies.
Compressor technology is the biggest single factor in the creation of energy efficient refrigerators. Older refrigerators require more energy because the compressors are not as good as those that have been developed in more recent years. In fact, the big increase in compressor efficiency came during the 1980s, and it has continued to improve since then.
Much of that efficiency is due to the research in hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCF) substitutes. As a byproduct, the compressors have gotten more efficient. Due to this development, a current refrigerator with an Energy Star® rating will use up to four times less energy than one from the 1970s.
Though not part of the Energy Star rating system, the size of the refrigerator is also a factor in its efficiency. A larger refrigerator will work harder, because it will be required to cool a greater area. This can significantly add to the overall energy consumption, so a consumer should carefully consider how much size is really needed. Any area cooled unnecessarily represents an inefficiency.
To determine which units are energy efficient refrigerators, a consumer should simply look for the label or ask a salesperson about the operating costs. In most advertisements, and especially at the retail location, these refrigerators will often display an Energy Star® or similar logo. This is a selling point, so it is often stressed. These refrigerators may also be more expensive to purchase than less efficient models, but the additional cost will likely be recouped over time with savings in energy bills.