Is a 20 Year Old Refrigerator Energy Efficient? Explained

The short answer is no. A 20 year old refrigerator is not energy efficient and can cost you more money in the long run. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average life expectancy of a refrigerator is 10 to 15 years, and the average fridge with a freezer on the top or bottom can reliably run for about 13 years. However, the refrigerator’s energy efficiency and performance can decline over time, leading to higher energy bills and more frequent repairs. In this article, we will explain why a 20 year old refrigerator is not energy efficient, how much it can cost you, and what are the benefits of replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR certified model.

Why a 20 Year Old Refrigerator Is Not Energy Efficient

A 20 year old refrigerator is not energy efficient for several reasons. First, older refrigerators use more electricity than newer models because they have less advanced technology and features. For example, older refrigerators may have inefficient compressors, poor insulation, and faulty temperature and defrost mechanisms that make them work harder and use more energy. Second, older refrigerators may have worn out parts and components that reduce their performance and efficiency. For example, the door seals may be loose or damaged, allowing cold air to escape and warm air to enter. The coils may be dirty or clogged, preventing proper heat exchange and cooling. The thermostat may be inaccurate or malfunctioning, causing the refrigerator to run too cold or too warm. Third, older refrigerators may not meet the current federal minimum energy efficiency standards, which have been updated several times over the years. The most recent update was in 2014, which increased the energy efficiency requirements for refrigerators by about 25% compared to the previous standards. This means that a 20 year old refrigerator may be using much more energy than the minimum required by law today.

How Much a 20 Year Old Refrigerator Can Cost You

A 20 year old refrigerator can cost you more money in the long run than a new one. The main costs are the energy bills and the repair bills. According to the ENERGY STAR Flip Your Fridge Calculator, a 20 year old refrigerator can use about 1,400 kWh of electricity per year, which can cost you about $170 per year, depending on your electricity rate. A new ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator, on the other hand, can use about 450 kWh of electricity per year, which can cost you about $55 per year. This means that you can save about $115 per year on your energy bills by replacing your old refrigerator with a new one. Over a 12-year lifetime of the new refrigerator, you can save about $1,380 on your energy bills. A 20 year old refrigerator can also cost you more money on repair bills. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of refrigerator repair is about $350, but it can range from $100 to $700, depending on the type and extent of the damage. A 20 year old refrigerator is more likely to break down and need repairs than a new one, especially if it has not been properly maintained. If you have to repair your old refrigerator more than once, it may not be worth it. You may end up spending more money on repairs than on a new refrigerator.

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What Are the Benefits of Replacing a 20 Year Old Refrigerator with a New One

Replacing a 20 year old refrigerator with a new one can have many benefits, not only for your wallet, but also for the environment and your health. Some of the benefits are:

  • You can save money on your energy bills and repair bills, as explained above.
  • You can reduce your environmental impact by using less electricity and preventing greenhouse gas emissions. According to the ENERGY STAR website, if all old refrigerators were replaced with ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators, Americans would save more than $295 million in annual energy costs, and prevent more than 5.6 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually, equivalent to the emissions from about 550,000 vehicles.
  • You can improve your food safety and quality by keeping your food at the optimal temperature and humidity. A new refrigerator can have better temperature control and consistency, preventing food spoilage and waste. A new refrigerator can also have better air filtration and circulation, preventing odors and bacteria growth. A new refrigerator can also have more storage space and organization, allowing you to store more food and access it easily.
  • You can enjoy more features and convenience with a new refrigerator. A new refrigerator can have more advanced technology and features that can enhance your user experience and satisfaction. For example, a new refrigerator can have a water and ice dispenser, a smart display, a door-in-door design, a dual cooling system, a flexible configuration, and more.

How to Choose a New Refrigerator

If you decide to replace your 20 year old refrigerator with a new one, you may wonder how to choose the best one for your needs and preferences. There are many factors to consider, such as the size, the style, the features, the price, and the energy efficiency. Here are some tips to help you choose a new refrigerator:

  • Choose the right size for your household’s needs. A refrigerator that is too large or too small can waste energy and space. The most energy-efficient models are typically 16-20 cubic feet. Generally, the larger the refrigerator, the greater the energy consumption. You can measure your current refrigerator and the space available in your kitchen to determine the best size for your new one.
  • Choose the style that suits your taste and convenience. There are four main styles of refrigerators: top freezer, bottom freezer, side-by-side, and French door. Each style has its pros and cons, depending on your preferences. For example, top freezer models tend to be cheaper and more energy-efficient than other styles, but they have less freezer space and require more bending to access the refrigerator section. Bottom freezer models tend to have more freezer space and easier access to the refrigerator section, but they may be more expensive and less energy-efficient than top freezer models. Side-by-side models tend to have more door storage and easier access to both sections, but they may have less shelf space and require more opening and closing of the doors. French door models tend to have more shelf space and flexibility, but they may be more expensive and less energy-efficient than other styles.
  • Choose the features that you want and need. There are many features that can enhance the performance and functionality of your refrigerator, such as a water and ice dispenser, a smart display, a door-in-door design, a dual cooling system, a flexible configuration, and more. However, not all features are necessary or useful for everyone. Some features may also increase the cost and energy consumption of your refrigerator. Therefore, you should choose the features that you will use and enjoy, and avoid the ones that you don’t need or want.
  • Choose the price that fits your budget. The price of a new refrigerator can vary widely, depending on the size, the style, the features, the brand, and the retailer. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of a new refrigerator is about $1,500, but it can range from $350 to $12,000. You should compare different models and prices to find the best value for your money. You should also consider the installation cost, the delivery cost, the disposal cost, and the warranty cost, which can add to the total cost of your refrigerator.
  • Choose the energy efficiency that saves you money and reduces your environmental impact. The most important factor to consider when choosing a new refrigerator is the energy efficiency. The energy efficiency of a refrigerator is measured by the annual energy use (kWh/year) and the energy efficiency ratio (EER), which is the ratio of the volume cooled (ft3) to the unit electrical energy per day (kWh/day). The lower the annual energy use and the higher the EER, the more energy-efficient the refrigerator is. You can find the energy efficiency information on the yellow EnergyGuide label that is attached to every new refrigerator. You can also look for the blue ENERGY STAR label, which indicates that the refrigerator meets the strict energy efficiency standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators are about 9 percent more energy efficient than models that meet the federal minimum energy efficiency standard. You can also use the ENERGY STAR Flip Your Fridge Calculator to estimate the savings associated with replacing your old refrigerator with a new ENERGY STAR certified model.
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Conclusion

A 20 year old refrigerator is not energy efficient and can cost you more money in the long run. Replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR certified model can save you money on your energy bills and repair bills, reduce your environmental impact, improve your food safety and quality, and enjoy more features and convenience. To choose a new refrigerator, you should consider the size, the style, the features, the price, and the energy efficiency that suit your needs and preferences. By following these tips, you can find the best refrigerator for your home and enjoy the benefits of a new, energy-efficient appliance.