Fridges and freezers

A woman shopper inspecting a fridge

A fridge is the single biggest power consumer in many households, because nearly all households have at least one fridge and they run for 24 hours a day. On average, 13 per cent of Victorian household energy costs are spent on running refrigeration.

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Choosing an efficient fridge or freezer

Compare star ratings

energy rating label

Energy rating

The energy rating label helps you compare the energy efficiency and running costs of different fridges and freezers. Labels display a rating from 1 to 6 stars, but super-efficient models can receive 7 to 10 stars, with the additional stars displayed as a crown on top of the label. The more stars, the more energy efficient the fridge or freezer will be, and the lower the running costs.

Energy consumption

Compare the energy efficiency of different models, using the star rating system, then use the numbers in the energy consumption box to find out the model's annual energy consumption. If you know your electricity tariff, you can then estimate what your annual running costs will be using the Energy Rating Calculator.

Minimum stars

When it's time to buy a new fridge or freezer, replace your old one with the most energy efficient model that will suit your household's needs. Try to buy a two-door fridge with at least 2.5 stars, a chest freezer with at least 3 stars, or an upright freezer with at least 2.5 stars. Every extra star will reduce your running costs by around 20 per cent.

Tips for choosing your fridge/freezer wisely

  • Choose the right size: If your current fridge is usually less than two-thirds full, it is probably too big for your needs. Consider a smaller version.
  • Look for models with door alarms: Door alarms will remind you to close the fridge or freezer door quickly.
  • Thermostat controls: Buy a model with thermostat controls that are easy to read and use.
  • Two-door fridges: If you are shopping around for a two-door fridge, choose a model with the freezer on top, as these models generally consume less energy than those with the freezer at the bottom.
  • Chest freezers: Consider buying a chest freezer rather than an upright freezer. Chest freezers are generally more efficient because cold air doesn't spill out when the door is opened.
  • Check the energy consumption box: Remember that models with built-in icemakers tend to use more energy. Refer to the energy consumption box on the energy rating label to see what the annual electricity use will be.
  • Look for brands that are designed for recycling: recycling whitegoods will reduce landfill, conserve resources and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases created in the production of new materials.

Running costs for fridges and freezers

The table below provides estimated running costs for different types of fridges and freezers based on star rating and volume.

Volume (litres) Energy star rating Annual running cost* Energy use (kWh/yr) Annual GHG emissions (kg)**
2-door frost-free fridge
200 1.5 star rating $117 366 432
3.5 star rating $69 217 256
350 2 star rating $135 422 498
4 star rating $80 250 295
500 2 star rating $163 510 602
4 star rating $96 302 356
600 2 star rating $184 578 682
3.5 star rating $125 391 461
700 2 star rating $201 631 745
3.5 star rating $136 426 503
Chest freezer
150 2 star rating $87 274 323
3.5 star rating $59 185 218
350 2 star rating $132 413 487
3.5 star rating $89 279 329
Upright freezer
250 2 star rating $111 348 411
4 star rating $66 206 243
350 1.5 star rating $150 471 556
3.5 star rating $89 279 329

* Calculations assume an electricity tariff of 31.9c/kWh, based on a typical Melbourne tariff. This does not include any pay-on-time discount, which would reduce the amount paid.
** GHG = Greenhouse gas emissions, expressed in kg of carbon dioxide equivalent. A greenhouse coefficient of 1.18 kilograms per kilowatt hour of electricity has been used. 

Using your fridge and freezer efficiently

Regardless of the type of fridge and freezer you own, you can reduce your energy bills by running your machine efficiently:

  • Location: Fridges and freezers should be located in a cool and well-ventilated space, with a gap of at least 5cm around the appliance for ventilation and heat dispersal.
  • Temperature: Set the thermostat at 3ºC for the fresh food compartment and -18ºC for the freezer compartment.
  • Door opening: Don’t open doors too frequently or for too long. Every time the door is opened cold air is released and warm air flows in.
  • Stocking: Don't overfill your fridge or freezer, as this will interfere with the circulation of cold air.
  • Door seals: Keep door seals clean and replace damaged seals.
  • Defrosting: Regularly defrost fridges and freezers if they don’t automatically defrost.
  • Coils: Keep any coils at the back of the fridge free of dust, as dust on coils can have an unwanted insulating effect and force your fridge to use more energy than necessary.
  • Second fridge: If you have a second fridge that you only use on special occasions, it is better to turn if off for most of the year and only turn it back on as needed. 

Disposing of your whitegoods responsibly

Ensure that when you buy a new product to replace an old one, you take the necessary steps to dispose of your old product responsibly. Recycling whitegoods will reduce landfill, conserve resources and reduce the amount of greenhouse gases created in the production of new materials.

Examples of energy and water rating labels

Energy and water ratings

Energy rating labels help you compare appliances so you can and choose the most energy and water efficient, and save money on running costs.

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Energy rating label

Energy rating calculator

The Energy Rating Calculator and app allows you to calculate the energy consumption and running costs for an appliance before you buy it.

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