Did you know that refrigerators are the top energy guzzlers in a household, consuming as much as 15 per cent of all electricity used? So, in the long term, despite its higher initial cost, an energy-efficient refrigerator will end up saving you more money. To find out if a model is environmentally friendly, look out for the mandatory Energy Label issued by the National Environment Agency that shows the annual energy consumption and the number of ticks awarded.
Design-wise, choose a model that has the freezer on either the top or bottom. Side-by-side models tend to use more energy, as do those that have ice and water dispensers on the door, or automatic ice-makers. Instead, look out for green features, such as door alarms that alert you if the fridge is left open. The most eco-friendly refrigerators also have the manual defrost option, which is more energy-efficient since it relies on air circulation within your home to break down frost.
If you are already the proud owner of a green refrigerator, here are some tips to maintain it and prevent costly repairs:
• Place your fridge away from heat-generating appliances such as the oven.
• Keep the temperature control at mid-range to save energy.
• Keep the freezer full. Counterintuitively, frozen food serves as a thermal stabiliser that reduces the amount of on-off cycling. If you don’t have much frozen food, try freezing containers of water instead.
• Check the seal by closing the door on a piece of paper. If you are able to pull it out easily, your fridge’s gasket needs to be adjusted or replaced.
• Clean the coils annually with a coil cleaning brush and vacuum. Dust and dirt build-up reduces the heat-exchange efficiency and makes the compressor work harder. Do this more often if you have fur-shedding pets.
■ Smeg’s FAB28, which comes in multiple colours, consumes only 247kwh of energy per annum. Priced at $3,080, available at major electrical stores.
■ Hitachi’s Made In Japan F series has a range of green technologies, such as frost recycling cooling and vacuum insulation panels. Priced from $4,399, available at major electrical stores.
■ Miele’s KFN 14842 SD ed/cs-1 uses only 265kwh of energy per annum, thanks to its maintenance-free LED lighting. Its Frost Free technology promises to save you the hassle of defrosting. Priced at $8,100, available at major electrical stores.
■ LG’s GB-B4451GV adjusts its cooling power based on the amount of food stored, and the inside and outside temperature of the refrigerator. Priced at $1,799, available at major electrical stores.