Vol.1, No.12

The refrigerator features you do and don't need

Learn how to buy a refrigerator within your budget and that suits your family needs. Look for features that will save you time and energy, thus saving you money.

Refrigerator ice and water dispenser features
Photo Credit: Lisa McDonald
The refrigerator is a common home appliance and is one of the larger more expensive appliances to buy. It accounts for more than 20% of the energy use in your home. When shopping for a refrigerator there are a few things you should keep in mind. What size of fridge is sufficient for your family? What features do you absolutely need and what can you do without? What types/models will fit into your prices range? Replacing an old refrigerator that is more than 15 years old is a wise decision because it will save you money on the energy consumption in your home. Older model refrigerators tend to use more energy and not work as well as the new models. Replacing your fridge is as easy as answering the above questions. The most important question is: What features do you really need and what can you do without?

Necessary or Cost Efficient Features

Energy efficient. Consumers need to take action and make sure they are buying energy efficient appliances. Most models on the market today are energy efficient. If you are not sure you are getting the best model for saving energy you can ask the store associate of look for the Energy Star or EnergySaver label.

High moisture switch (known as the energy saver switch). This switch can help prevent condensation in your fridge during humid weather. When not needed turning the switch off in dry weather can save on energy.

Defrost function. Most people prefer the frostless automatic defrost feature. It is more convenient and helps to regulate the temperature in your fridge. Although this feature consumes a little more energy than the manual defrosts, it is well worth the money to have this feature.

Size/Capacity. This feature depends on your family's individual needs. It is best to buy the most economical size that your family can function with. The larger the refrigerator the more energy it takes to run. You will need to make sure you have enough space for the size you choose. You should allow at least one inch on each side of the fridge for cleaning and installing. If you block air circulation around the appliance it could cause it to work harder and the operation costs will be higher.

Cabinet rollers. These allow you to be able to roll the refrigerator out for cleaning and provide an easy way to move the fridge when needed.

Flexible shelves and trays. Provides a way to organize your fridge the way you want. Make sure the trays and shelves inside the fridge are replaceable. If something is broken you want to be able to get the part.

All of these features are convenient and affordable. Most of the extras mentioned above will not bump up the price of the fridge. There are some features that are available that may increase the price of the appliance and also add to the operating costs.

Some features you could probably do without are:

Automatic icemaker. Although the icemaker is extremely popular and certainly more convenient, it has some disadvantages. It can increase the cost of the refrigerator, it can make repair costs more expensive, it requires plumbing and it can easily get plugged if the quality of your water is not up to par. Also a fridge with an icemaker consumes more energy.

Water and ice dispensers. Definitely increase the cost of the appliance. They use more energy and the repair costs tend to be more on this type of refrigerator.

Purchasing a large expensive appliance like a refrigerator can be somewhat confusing. Doing a little research a head of time and deciding size/capacity, features and price can save time and money for you and your family. Shop around and make sure you get the best appliance for your money.