Should you buy an energy efficient fridge?

You’d be hard-pressed to find a single household in Australia that doesn’t possess a refrigerator of some sort, even if it’s only a little bar fridge. But many of us own appliances on the lower end of the efficiency scale – possibly because they were cheaper to buy, or it could just be that we didn’t have energy efficiency in mind at the time of purchase.

The question of purchase price versus energy efficiency is a longstanding one, and one that can plague anyone who’s shopping around for a new appliance. A higher star rating for energy efficiency is generally correlated with a higher price tag, and many of us – more worried about our bank balance than the environment – opt for a cheaper, less efficient model. However, what many Australians don’t realise is that by buying a less efficient appliance, they stand to lose money down the track in the form of higher electricity bills.

But which costs you more in the long run, higher electricity bills, or a bigger initial purchase price? To try and answer this question, we’ve compared the purchase price and running costs of three different refrigerators, with energy efficiency ratings of 1 star, 2.5 stars and 4 stars. These figures were calculated using an electricity price of $0.29/kWh. Be aware that electricity rates vary across the country, so this will also impact your own personal running costs.

The 1 star model – Fisher & Paykel C270RW

A small model suited to one to three people, this upright fridge from Fisher & Paykel has a capacity of 266L and comes with features such as a humidity controlled crisper and a cyclic defrost function.

  • Purchase price – $785
  • Energy used each year – 340kWh
  • Annual running cost – $98
  • Running costs over 10 years – $976
  • Total cost of ownership over 10 years – $1,761

The 2.5 star model – LG GC306NW

This fridge from LG is a slightly larger model, best suited to a household of two to four people. It has a capacity of 306L and is a bottom mount fridge, meaning it comes with a small freezer compartment. It has a built-in deodoriser, which will prevent your fridge from retaining any nasty residual smells, and keep it smelling fresh and neutral. It also comes with an express freeze function, which means you can both freeze food and create ice at a faster rate.

  • Purchase price – $889
  • Energy used each year – 400kWh
  • Annual running cost – $115
  • Running costs over 10 years – $1,148
  • Total cost of ownership over 10 years – $2,037

The 4 star model – Samsung SRL458ELS

With a whopping 458L capacity, this fridge from Samsung would suite most households, being able to accommodate four to five people. It comes with an icemaker, a large bottom mounted freezer, and is a quiet machine, so it won’t disturb anyone in the household. It also comes with a deodoriser, a door alarm, and a humidity controlled crisper.

  • Purchase price – $1,109
  • Energy used each year – 330Kwh
  • Annual running cost – $95
  • Running costs over 10 years – $947
  • Total cost of ownership over 10 years – $2,056

Is it worth buying an energy efficient fridge?

So if we look at the purchase prices and running costs of all three models, a few things become clear. The 1 star model is the cheapest by about $250, but its running costs are not the most expensive, as you may have predicted. That honour belongs to the 2.5 star model, which costs nearly $20 a year more in electricity, despite being a more efficient appliance.

The difference in overall price between the 2.5 and 4 star models was negligible, coming out at just under $20, with the 4 star model being slightly more expensive. However, considering the fact that the 4 star model costs over $200 more to purchase than the 2.5 star, a $20 difference is comparatively small.

In the end it seems like it’ll be cheapest to go with an inefficient fridge that costs less to purchase, however the overall price differences between the three models aren’t so large that you should rule out purchasing a more efficient fridge, even if it’s a little pricier. Think about how much you want to spend, along with whether you can afford to pay higher bills along the line, and the degree to which you’re concerned about the environment. Thorough consideration of those three points should help you figure out what you want to go with.

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