17 years later, a new fridge that’s $300 cheaper and uses 40% less power


Our refrigerator, nearly 17 years old, started to make a loud clunk when the compressor stopped running. It was very loud, like a heavy object falling off the kitchen counter. An Internet search and a conversation at an appliance store confirmed that our refrigerator was on its last legs. The compressor still did its job of cooling the fridge, but one day soon, maybe in a week, maybe in a few months, it was going to die, and the expense of repairing it would be substantial.

Time for a new fridge, we decided. But the task proved to be more vexing than I expected.

article continues below

In our 1970s-era kitchen, maximum height for a fridge, without renovating the cabinets, is 65.5 inches. The majority of the full-size fridges on the market today are over 66 inches. Another Internet search took me to a couple of fridge discussions where people who also live in older houses lamented their lack of fridge options because of height constraints. My problem turned out to be a common problem. Manufacturers have largely abandoned people who need less-tall fridges.

After a tour of appliance stores, I found a grand total of two fridges that would fit our space. They were among the least expensive full-size units, and were described to me as perfectly good fridges that landlords like to buy for their rental apartments. They don't have the latest technology, they're not as quiet.

We bought a white one (because it was in stock) that is 65.5 inches tall. I sanded away a quarter inch of cabinet trim on one side of the fridge alcove so that the new unit would fit. (The old one was 64.5 inches tall.)

The new fridge cost $700, versus the $1,000 we paid 17 years ago. I found the receipt and the manual in our manuals box. The old fridge was fancier, with sturdier drawers, shelves that had more adjustment options, and dials to control condensation. But paying $300 less after 17 years — that’s not bad, even if the fridge is less fancy. Though I wonder if the new unit will also last 17 years.

Refrigerator power use

The new fridge is rated at 388 kWh of power use in a year, versus 683 for the old unit. That’s roughly 40 per cent less power hungry.

B.C. Hydro is charging 11.27 cents per kWh. So, that translates into $43.73 to run the fridge for a year, versus $76.97 for the old fridge, a $33.24 saving.

In a way, it’s good that we were constrained by our cabinets (and our reluctance to renovate.) Without that constraint, we would have probably bought one of the $1,000-plus stainless steel units that dominate the showrooms. Apart from their higher cost to buy, they tend to cost more to run because they are bigger than our modest model. The money savings soften my disappointment in not getting a spiffier fridge.

- - -

Judging by what the appliance stores stock in their showrooms, stainless steel is by far the most popular finish for kitchen appliances, with white a distant second.

Back in 2012, a Wall Street Journal story noted the dominance of stainless steel and how appliance makers were having limited success in highlighting other colours. Not much appears to have changed since then on the colour front.

- - -

Newer fridges use considerably less electricity than ones made more than a decade ago.

Energy Star has a giant spreadsheet listing residential refrigerators and their expected annual energy use. You can download a PDF here.

It also has advice on what to look for when buying a fridge if energy conservation is important to you. Here's the link, click on the Buying Guidance tab. In summary, pay attention to the Energy Star power consumption estimate, fridges with top-mounted freezers use less power than bottom-mounted or side-by-side, skip the ice maker, and 16 to 20 cubic feet models tend to be the most energy efficient.

- - -

My previous posts are here.


- - -


Most-read posts:


Riding the ferry for fun, and for the buffet


Why paying $720 for a phone can be a better deal than a 2-year contract


If your garbage bin is overfilled, it might not be emptied


Tips to make applying for a passport a little easier


Energy efficient light bulbs are finally worth buying

How to pronounce Ucluelet, Tsawwassen, and that outdoor gear place

How I like to make popcorn (cautiously) on a stovetop

Vancouver to Toronto by train: enjoying the journey


- - -

Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist


NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Times Colonist welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus

Find out what's happening in your community.

Most Popular