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Fridges and freezers: efficient food storage

Fridges and freezers: efficient food storage

Almost every household owns a fridge/freezer, while some also have an additional chest freezer for extra storage. But how much power do these appliances actually use? And can you reduce their running costs?

Peter Earl
From the Energy team
minute read
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Posted 13 JULY 2020

How much power do fridges and freezers use?

The actual amount of power fridges and freezers use will depend on factors, such as:

  • The energy rating
    Fridges and freezers are rated according to their energy efficiency and will be given an ‘EU energy label’ grading. This ranking system scores appliances from A++ for the most energy efficient, through to G for the least energy efficient. The rating is calculated by measuring the amount of energy used per litre or cubic foot of space.
  • How well a fridge/freezer is used and maintained
    Regular cleaning and maintenance will help increase the energy efficiency of your fridge/freezer. The amount you store also has a bearing. If you jam-pack your fridge/freezer, air-flow is restricted, so the appliance has to work harder to keep cool. If your fridge/freezer is practically empty, electricity is being used to simply cool air and nothing else.

How much do fridges and freezers cost to run?

To work out how much your fridge/freezer is costing to run, simply find out the average consumption (kWh per year) and multiple this by the rate your electricity is charged at per kWh. You can find the kWh rate on the ‘electricity use in detail’ section of your energy bill.

Here’s a rough idea of how much energy a fridge or freezer will use, and how much it costs to run on average per year**:

Appliance Average consumption (kWh/year) Average running cost (£/year)**
Fridge 162 £23.50
Fridge/freezer 427 £62.00
Upright freezer 327 £47.50
Chest freezer 362 £52.50

**Based on an indicative average rate of 14.5 pence per kWh.

How can I improve the efficiency of my fridge or freezer?

Here are a few tips:

Buy the right-sized fridge/freezer for your household
When buying a fridge or freezer, make sure you choose one with the right capacity for your needs. Remember, an empty fridge, just as an over-packed fridge, will make the appliance work harder. If you don’t store much in your fridge, fill up some of the space with cold bottles of tap water or screwed-up newspaper to help keep the temperature down.

Pay attention to where you position your fridge/freezer
If your fridge/freezer spends much of the day in direct sunlight or is positioned next to the oven, it could add to your electricity bill. It will need to work harder to keep cool than a fridge/freezer that’s in a shady area away from heat sources.

Dust the back of your fridge/freezer
The condenser coils on the back of your fridge/freezer should be vacuumed or dusted every few months to help keep it more efficient. Build-up of dust and dirt will make it more difficult for the coils to get rid of the heat and it will take more energy to cool your fridge down.  

Keep the door seals clean
A good seal is essential for the operation of your fridge/freezer. Make sure the seals are kept clean and check them for signs of wear and tear to make sure no cool air is escaping.

Don’t put hot food in the fridge
Make sure you cool any leftovers down before putting them in the fridge. Warm food will make the fridge work doubly hard to compensate for the heat you’ve just added.

Check out our energy saving tips for more ways to help make your home more energy efficient.

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