Do Refrigerators Use More Energy As They Get Older?

Refrigerators are very energy efficient today. Even a large refrigerator for a family of 4 might only consume up to $100 worth of energy every year. But refrigerators tend to consume more as they get older.

The standard for energy efficiency in refrigerators dates back to 1972. However, most old fridges are consuming more and more.

One of the best methods to reduce the monthly energy bills of a home is to buy new appliances, including refrigerators.

Today, most new refrigerators are better and more efficient than old (sometimes even smaller) refrigerators. They keep food cold with lower costs and they are quieter as well.

How much energy does a refrigerator need?

A standard French door refrigerator needs just above 400KW electricity per year. Samsung is the first brand to have made a French door refrigerator that consumes less than 400KW per year

Giving the current average price for US KWh is $10.66, such an efficient refrigerator would only consume $40 worth of energy per year. This is the best fridge for energy efficiency. But even the average new refrigerator still consumes a lot less than an old refrigerator.

Here’s why refrigerators need more energy as they get old

There are a few common reasons why old refrigerators start consuming more energy. It’s always recommended to upgrade a refrigerator once it reaches its 10th birthday. Using it past this point comes with the following problems.

Inefficient old compressor

Compressors wear out. While it takes years for a fridge’s compressor to show its weaknesses, it’s still one of the parts that start to fail.

Reduced compressor efficiency is mostly seen in the electricity bill. The lower the efficiency of the compressor is the more energy it will consume.

The problem here is that the cooling results are the same. In other words, you’re paying more to keep food as cold as normally with an older refrigerator.

Old fan

Fan energy efficiency is always improving from one year to another. Old fans are known to consume more energy.

Refrigerator fans are known to be some of the first parts that break in refrigerators. This is why fans can add up to the electricity consumption of old refrigerators.

Poor insulation

Insulation is very important for energy efficiency. The problem is that fridge insulation starts to wear off quickly, even within 10 years. Fridges eventually start to leak which means they have to work more and even constantly to keep food warm. This drastically increases energy consumption.

If you can’t upgrade a fridge that’s 10 years old, 20 years old, or 30 years old, you can at least upgrade its insulating materials for some energy efficiency.

No vacuum panel

Vacuum panels are a practical invention for fridges. These ensure the door or doors of the refrigerator remain shut even when the insulation is start to crack or show signs of wear. Old refrigerators don’t have this technology.

Are old refrigerators better than new refrigerators?

Old refrigerators are not as energy efficient as new refrigerators. It’s believed they’re only up to 25% as efficient as new refrigerators.

Energy consumption studies in the field of appliances and refrigerators show a modern refrigerator is up to 4 times more energy-efficient than a refrigerator made in the ‘70s or the ‘80s.

The difference in energy consumption becomes smaller as the old fridge is newer. Still, a refrigerator made in 2022 can be twice as energy-efficient as a refrigerator made in 2010.

The problem here is many people don’t upgrade old refrigerators if there’s no problem with them.

Fridges sometimes come with the house. This is why it’s essential to stay away from old fridges even if they are working fine.

Old refrigerators can be recycled and they sometimes can be used to deduce the price of a new refrigerator.

Should I replace my old refrigerator?

How much energy can an old refrigerator consume? A 15-year old refrigerator can consume as much as 1.000KWh per year. It’s best to upgrade it as soon as possible.

  • Replace refrigerators older than 10 years

A 10-year old refrigerator can consume 800 to 1.000KWh. This is almost double the energy consumption of a new refrigerator.

  • Replace refrigerators older than 20 years

A 20-year old refrigerator can consume between 900 and 1.000KWh This is more than double the energy efficiency of new fridges which includes a large 25.5cu.ft. refrigerators.

  • Keep an eye on the energy consumption of fridges older than 5 years

Not only do refrigerators older than 10 years can consume more energy. Even 3-5-year-old fridges can suffer in physical aspects that make it consume more energy.

Faulty rubber door seals or the insulation of a fridge can suffer within a few years essentially increasing the home’s monthly energy bill.

  • Some fridges can consume more whenever there’s a physical fault even when new

Many fridges such as Viking fridges now come with 3-year warranty policies. This doesn’t mean they can’t be used for more than 3 years. However, this means these refrigerators might need servicing to continue being energy efficient past this interval

Summary

Refrigerators need more energy as they get older mainly due to compressor and fan issues. New refrigerators can be up to 4 times more energy-efficient than an old refrigerator.

A new 25.5cu.ft. the refrigerator might only need $40 worth of electricity per year while an old refrigerator with a similar capacity needs up to $160 worth of energy per year.

Sources

Refrigerators and Freezers Appliance Standards: Appliance Standards Awareness Project

My Old Refrigerator Used More Electricity Than 3.3 Billion People: Forbes

Samsung refrigerator hits new high for efficiency: Consumer Reports

1 thought on “Do Refrigerators Use More Energy As They Get Older?”

  1. That is all well and good..but factor in what goes into making a new refrigerator..because the new ones have smaller compressors( use less energy) and they only last about 10 years..So while old ones keep chugging along at least you aren’t consuming new and more raw materials. Not to mention what all the new, quickly worn out refrigerators are adding to the landfill!
    I hate my new refrigerator..it’s warm and cool spots aren’t where they were in old ones. If we can spread the peanut butter the milk spoils, if it is cold enough so the milk doesn’t spoil..you can’t spread the peanut butter…the doors are cold..and where you generally keep the milk, it’s warmer..where we now keep the peanut butter!
    When we were without power for 9 days…it took the generator running constantly to keep the new one cold. ( we do not keep our home very warm inside) Whereas we used 1 generator to keep 2 chest freezers and an old fridge in the garage cold. ( I know it was cooler in the garage..in the 50s)
    Again..I hate the new fridge and wish I had my old one..hey, I’m moving my old one back into the kitchen from the garage!!

    Reply

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