How Many Watts Does a Refrigerator Use?

June 3, 2024
Refrigerator Repair

Refrigerators are one of those appliances that we just can’t live without. They keep food fresh, drinks cool, and often dispense filtered water—and we rarely give them a second thought! However, refrigerators can use a significant amount of your household energy, particularly if you have a model that isn’t very energy efficient. If you’re thinking of getting a new refrigerator or are just curious about the watts your refrigerator uses, this article is for you! We help demystify the facts by breaking down how watts impact energy efficiency, as well as outlining the average wattage you can expect for different types of refrigerators. 

Understanding Watts and Energy Efficiency

Let’s start with the absolute basics—what do we actually mean by ‘watts’? Watts are a unit of measurement that indicates how much energy is being used by an appliance or electrical device. Lower wattage indicates that your refrigerator is using less energy, but this often corresponds with a smaller size which may not be suitable for your needs. Refrigerators with higher energy efficiency are able to achieve the necessary cooling with a lower wattage, without compromising on space or performance. This is conferred by the Energy Star rating system, which awards appliances a star rating based on their energy efficiency. 

Average Wattage by Refrigerator Type

The wattage used by your refrigerator will be affected by the type and size of your appliance. Here’s a breakdown of the average wattage used by the four most common types of refrigerators:

Freezer-on-Top Models

Models with the freezer at the top are the most common refrigerator type—and also the most energy efficient! These refrigerators tend to be slightly smaller than other types, and having the freezer at the top means that the compressor doesn’t have to work as hard as with other models. Depending on the size, these types of refrigerators use between 100 and 150 watts per hour. 

Freezer-at-the-Bottom Models

These models are similar to freezer-on-top refrigerators but use slightly more energy. The overall wattage used depends mostly on size, but they average between 150 and 200 watts per hour. 

Side-by-Side Models

These refrigerators usually use more wattage than stacked refrigerators, but this is mostly due to their larger size. The wattage is usually within the 200-300 watts range. While this is higher, the side-by-side aspect is also very convenient, so many people find this worthwhile. 

French Door Models

French door refrigerators usually feature a separate freezer compartment, either on the bottom or the top, and a large, spacious fridge compartment with French doors. These are the most energy-hungry of the refrigerator types. They also frequently come with other convenient features that add to the energy load, such as water and ice dispensers. These models often use between 250 and 500 watts per hour on average. 

Factors Affecting Refrigerator Wattage

A few different factors can impact the wattage used by your refrigerator. As we mentioned above, the size of your refrigerator has a big impact, so bear this in mind when choosing a model. Choosing the smallest fridge to suit your needs is probably the easiest way to get a lower-wattage appliance. 

Energy efficiency has also improved a lot in recent years, and newer models of refrigerators are usually a lot more energy efficient than older models. Extra features, which are often available in luxury models, can also add to the energy consumption, so if wattage is a concern for you, avoid features like ice makers and water dispensers. 

The climate where you live or the temperature of your home can also affect how many watts your refrigerator uses. If you live in a hot, humid climate, your fridge is going to have to work harder to maintain its temperature. 

Tips to Reduce Refrigerator Energy Consumption

Even if your refrigerator is not the lowest wattage model available, there are still steps you can take to reduce energy consumption. Our top tips include:

  • Place the refrigerator in a cool part of your kitchen, preferably not right next to the oven. 
  • Set your fridge and freezer to optimal temperature levels to avoid unnecessary power usage. The FDA recommends you keep the refrigerator temperature at or below 40° F (4° C) and the freezer temperature at 0° F (-18° C).
  • Avoid opening the fridge too frequently, as this causes cool air to escape. 
  • Make sure the door seals are clean and functioning correctly. Loose seals let warm air in and mean your refrigerator uses more watts to maintain its temperature. 
  • When placing leftovers in your fridge or freezer, allow them to cool to room temperature first. 
  • Keep your refrigerator coils clean to ensure your fridge is operating as efficiently as possible. 

Considering Energy Star-Rated Models

Energy star ratings are designed to let consumers compare and contrast the energy efficiency of appliances. To earn an Energy Star, your refrigerator must meet stringent energy standards laid out by the US Environmental Protection Agency or the US Department of Energy. On average, appliances that qualify for an Energy Star use around 15% less energy than standard models. This translates to a significant energy saving over the lifespan of the appliance, including a considerable financial benefit. 

Monitoring Your Refrigerator’s Power Usage

Monitoring the power usage of your refrigerator is a great way to understand how much energy it’s consuming. It also allows you to make changes to your usage if necessary. The easiest way to do this is to purchase a plug-in power meter to measure the actual wattage being used by your fridge. This can help you identify potential issues that can prevent your fridge from functioning efficiently, such as loose door seals or dirty refrigerator coils.


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