Refrigerator Energy Usage – How Much Electricity Does It Use? I mentioned in an earlier post, I found my Kill-A-Watt buried in my bedroom closet amongst a bunch of other cords in a bag.  Over the past year several times I have longed to test the electricity usage but couldn’t bring myself to buy another one.  Of course since I have it back in hand, I’ve been testing out some electrical components in our home to find out how much electricity they use, determined to find out why we use so much electricity.

The first thing I decided to test was the old upright freezer which resides on the porch. I fought tooth and nail against ever having a refrigerator or freezer outdoors in Arizona; if I had my way, it never would have happened. I lost the battle several years ago.

I had little luck learning about the appliances by looking at them. However, after a bit of research, I discovered this very helpful site, Refrigerator and Freezer Energy Rating Database where you can look up your refrigerator or freezer’s using the brand and model number (you can use an asterisk to find every model for that brand, or enter in partial model numbers) to discover the year, size and more. Very handy tool! Unfortunately I was to learn that that three of our major appliances are thirty years old.  And it’s true, very true what they say about old appliances costing more money to run.

I’ve put together a comparison matrix for what it’s been costing us to use all these ancient appliances.  You’ll have to click on it to be able to read it. I was unable to get an actual Kill-a-Watt reading from the third freezer as it would have been very difficult to get it pulled out and plugged in. But since it’s also from 1979, we can assume the cost will be close to the other two old ones.


Here’s a quick rundown.

Our JC Penney upright freezer, which resides on our front porch, is costing us $28.50 per month. We mainly store goat’s milk in this freezer.

We have a 1990 Kenmore Refrigerator with the freezer on top, which is costing us $13.50 per month.

We had a Whirlpool side by side refrigerator which was costing us $25.20 to run each month.  We erroneously thought since the icemaker did not have water connected to it, that it was not working.  I discovered this fact while researching and have included quoted information below. I had Mr. A remove the icemaker from this fridge, and the usage dropped by $4 a month to $21.00.

When we discovered this Whirlpool was costing so much money to run, we decided to bring in a newer refrigerator which we had stored outside the last couple of months. One of Mr. A’s customers was unable to pay his entire bill and gave us a refrigerator in trade.  It happened to be a 2004 model. It does not include an icemaker. It costs $5.40 per month to run. Mr. A and I were shocked and horrified to see just how little this newer model costs to run.

Mr. Electricity at Saving Electricity indicates that refrigerators aged from 1976 to 1986 use an average of 1400 kWh per year.  Post 2001 refrigerators use 500kWh per year, and post 2001 Energy Star refrigerators use 425kWh per year.

Our daily usage of 9.5 on the JC Penney upright multiplied by 365 days equals 3467kWh per year.  This would make our usage 2.5 times higher than the average estimates.  However, we must take into consideration that during the winter the usage will no doubt be lower, possibly even much lower since the cool temperatures would cause the freezer to run less to keep itself working properly.

Another article I found (had to use the WayBack Machine to access it) What’s Wrong With Refrigerator Ratings said under the heading “Keep That Kitchen Cool”

Individual refrigerators were very sensitive to kitchen temperatures. Many experienced a doubling in energy use when the temperature rose from 65°F to 80°F. Refrigerators rarely achieved their labeled consumptions until the kitchen temperature rose above 80°F.

I take this to mean that refrigerators should use even less than the projected kWh if your kitchen is under 80°F. Well, during the summer we keep the thermostat at 80°F.  Last summer we we were determined to stay at 81°F but it was so miserable, not to mention that Big A broke out with heat rash under his arms several times so we’re not going through that again.

Also, icemakers are apparently use a lot of energy:

In the case of the second lemon, it was considered a certainty that the ice maker could not be the problem. In a phone interview the homeowners reported they did not have an ice maker. When the engineer arrived on site, he opened the freezer and found… an ice maker. Further investigation revealed that the water line was not connected to the unit. The homeowner assumed that this meant that the ice maker was not functioning–an incorrect assumption.

Since the ice maker was not turned off, it cycled just as if it were making ice. Without water, it never made ice and the sensing arm did not halt the process. Every half hour the ice maker repeated the process. When the ice maker on this unit was turned off, it showed a usage reduction equivalent to 357 kWh annually.

The reason the icemaker uses more electricity from the same article:

The total energy use from automatic ice makers is the total of four components:

  • the energy required to freeze water
  • the energy expended by the heater that warms the ice mold so the ice can be removed
  • the energy expended by the motor that pushes the ice out of the mold
  • the energy required by the compressor to remove this extra heat from the freezer.

Mr. A and I were amazed to find just how expensive it is to run an old refrigerator or freezer. I found myself feeling conflicted, because these appliances are THIRTY YEARS OLD! Modern appliances aren’t expected to last more than 10-15 years. These old geezer appliances deserve a pat on the back for working and working and working, day after day, for thirty years! On the other hand, we are throwing money away by using them!

I really wish we had the money on hand to buy new freezers, to replace the two old ones that we have now.  I know they would pay for themselves within a couple of years.

So, do you have an old refrigerator or freezer that’s eating you out of house and home?

On October 14, 2009 Old Appliances Really Do Use More Electricity was included at the 86th Money Hacks Carnival hosted at Credit Card Offers IQ.

Yours Truly,

OUT OF DEBT AGAIN is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to AMAZON.COM. OUT OF DEBT AGAIN is an affiliate for several companies and may be compensated through advertising and marketing channels. This post may contain affiliate links.

10 thoughts on “Refrigerator Energy Usage – How Much Electricity Does It Use?

  1. yes the newer machines use less energy. Usually they have a energy rating so it is a good idea to check that.

    Look at the size of the freezer too. How big does it really have to be?

    How much do you use it, especially in the colder months.


  2. Pingback: Frugal Confessions

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