How to find the right refrigerator

A man looks in his refrigerator

It’s time to think about a new refrigerator if the old one consumes much more electricity than a new economical one. To find out if a "breakup" better would be, you have to calculate the power consumption of your refrigerator. Electricity meters, which you can connect between the appliance and the socket, help here.

With this you measure the power consumption of the refrigerator for 7 days and extrapolate the power consumption to one year. You can then compare this data from your old equipment with that from new, energy-efficient equipment. Simply take the difference between the electricity consumption times the electricity price, i.e. 27 cents/kWh. Now you know how much more your old refrigerator is costing you.

As the refrigerator ages, its power consumption increases.

If you want to check if the door still closes tightly, take a paper strip and stick it in the door. If you can easily pull out the paper strip or the door opens without resistance, you should replace the gaskets. Similarly, a flashlight placed in the refrigerator can give an indication that the door is not closing properly if its light beam shines through the cracks of the closed door.

Refrigerator size must fit the household

When buying a new refrigerator and/or a fridge-freezer combination, you should pay particular attention to the size required. Because the power consumption depends on the size of the appliance and on what temperature is set.

100 liters more volume increases consumption by 20 percent. For Single or two-person households are usually sufficient 100 to 150 liters Useful capacity. If more people live in the household, you can use 50 liters per person calculate. For orientation: An economical A+++ refrigerator with a volume of around 150 l should not consume more than 65 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year.

How to recognize energy-saving appliances

The EU energy label is stuck on every appliance and also provides information about energy consumption on the Internet. Since March 2021, new energy efficiency classes have been provided for this purpose. These are between A and F for refrigerators and freezers. The new classification makes sense, as almost all appliances now fall into a class with an A and a plus sign. It was difficult to differentiate in terms of energy efficiency. Now the classification of the devices is to be distributed again on more energy classes, so that you can find economical devices more easily.

However, it will probably be difficult for the appliance manufacturers to achieve the best possible class A for the time being. This is only likely to become possible with additional efficiency improvements. The fact that since March the classification starts at C even for currently very efficient appliances is only due to the new classification, but not because the appliances have become worse.

New on the label is also a QR code that leads to the new European database EPREL. There you will find additional product information. Other symbols on the label inform about further consumption values, which help to compare different appliances well with each other:

  • The milk carton stands for Refrigerator volume.
  • The snowflake for the Freezer volume.
  • Sound waves from a loudspeaker symbolize the Volume: The smaller the numerical value, the better. Particularly quiet appliances have less than 38 decibels (dBA). The new noise emission classes under the speaker serve as a guide: A is particularly quiet and D is particularly loud.

If you want to consider other criteria besides power consumption, it is always advisable to look at independent product tests, such as those conducted by Stiftung Warentest.

Screenshot refrigerator calculator

Our refrigerator calculator also helps you decide on a new one. It not only compares the individual costs of new appliances, but also shows how high the CO2 emissions are in the first year. All you need to do is enter the purchase price and the annual electricity consumption indicated on the label into the calculator. You can already see the total costs over 15 years and compare different models with each other.

Advantages and disadvantages of individual device types

1) Refrigerator and freezer combinations

Refrigerator and freezer combinations are suitable for households that not only want to refrigerate food, but also regularly store frozen products and food freezing want. The refrigerator and freezer sections are arranged one above the other in these units. They therefore require little floor space and are cheaper than two single appliances.

Standard models have only one cooling circuit. In the case of fridge-freezers with two control circuits, you can simply switch off the refrigerator section while the freezer section continues to operate during longer absences, for example on vacation. You can set the refrigerator and freezer units according to your needs, which can also save energy.

Many appliances with No Frost technology are offered in the trade. It continuously reduces humidity by dispersing moisture by circulating the air and filtering it out of the interior. This prevents ice from forming on the interior walls, saving you from having to defrost it. However, this "service" has its price. Refrigerators and freezers with No Frost have correspondingly higher purchase and electricity costs.

Refrigerators without and with freezer compartment

The "classic are refrigerators without freezer compartment, which cool at temperatures between 0 °C and +10 °C. These devices are available in different sizes. They require the least energy of all refrigerators because they do not freeze anything.

It is best to set these refrigerators to a temperature of 7 °C. Every degree less increases the power consumption by about 6 percent. A thermometer with which you simply measure the temperature in the upper compartment tells you whether you are achieving the desired cooling.

If you do choose a refrigerator with a freezer compartment, pay attention to the star rating of the freezer compartment, because only a 4-star rating will allow the appliance to freeze your food properly and for a long time. The Best before date for frozen products always refers to -18 °C. At 1 to 3 stars, only things that are already frozen can be stored for a short time. In these freezers it does not get colder than -12 °C, so frozen products such as pizza and chips do not necessarily reach the best-before date.

Star rating Temperature
* -6 °C and colder
** -12 °C and colder
*** -18 °C and colder
* * * * -18 °C and colder

If you regularly store large quantities of frozen food or want to freeze food, you should also purchase a freezer or chest freezer.

2) Multi-zone refrigerators

A multi-zone refrigerator is intended for households that want to store a lot of fresh food on a regular basis. These appliances offer compartments with separately adjustable temperatures, some with different humidity levels:

  • Cooling zone: + 3 °C to + 10 °C corresponds to the interior of the conventional refrigerator
  • cold storage zone: 0 °C to + 3 °C – special compartments separated from the normal refrigeration area for storing sensitive, perishable foods; the cold storage compartment with high humidity keeps lettuce, fruit and vegetables fresh for much longer; the cold storage compartment with low humidity is particularly suitable for fish, seafood, meat and sausage.

But: Multi-zone refrigerators require a few kilowatt hours (kWh) more than conventional refrigerators because they reach lower temperatures than the previously recommended 7 °C in certain zones. Pay attention here also to the specified annual power consumption.

Tips for refrigeration

  1. Size
    For a single or two-person household, buy an appliance with 100 to 150 liters of useful capacity. For each additional person, you can count on 50 liters.
  2. Design
    Built-in or free-standing? If you have a choice, you should choose a free-standing appliance. It tends to keep the storage temperature more stable according to Stiftung Warentest findings and usually works more energy-efficiently.
  3. Location
    Refrigerator and freezer combinations should be located in a cool place, then the power consumption is also lower. In the sun, close to the stove or near the heater is not a good location.
  4. Temperature
    In order for refrigerated food to remain fresh until the specified best-before date, 7 °C in the refrigerator is enough. This is the optimal temperature, because for every degree lower, your electricity consumption increases by 6 percent. Measure the temperature every now and then.
  5. Put away
    It’s better to open the refrigerator once to fill it than to open and close the door frequently (z.B. for weekend shopping). Put the food you already have in the front when you put it away, so it doesn’t get forgotten and used up sooner than the fresh new food.
  6. Contents
    The more full a refrigerator is, the less energy it consumes.
  7. Store
    The cooler the food gets in the fridge, the less energy the appliance needs. That’s why warm foods should be allowed to cool before placing them in the refrigerator.
  8. Vacation
    If you are not at home for a longer period of time, it is worthwhile to switch off the empty refrigerator. Newer models even have a vacation circuit that saves electricity.

Tips for freezing

  1. Drawers instead of compartments
    For a better overview of the contents, freezer drawers are preferable to compartments.
  2. Freezing
    For freezing you need a 4-star freezer compartment. Compartments with fewer stars are only suitable for limited storage of frozen products.
  3. Freezing
    Do not freeze too much food at once. The freezing process slows down and this can lead to a loss of food quality. Freezing capacity indicates the amount of food that can be cooled from 25°C to -18°C in 24 hours. It is stated in the manufacturer’s brochure and in the operating instructions of the device.
  4. Defrost
    The appliance should be defrosted when layers of ice cover the cooling surfaces, reducing efficiency. A 1-centimeter-thick layer of ice increases electricity consumption by 10 to 15 percent.
  5. Close
    It makes sense to check the door seals every now and then. If these are leaking, they should be replaced.

What where? Store food properly

Conventional refrigerators operate with static cooling. This means that there are different temperature zones in the appliance, which vary by up to Distinguish 10 degrees can. The cold air sinks, the warm air rises.

  • Thus prevail in the top shelf as well as in the Door compartments the warmest temperatures. It’s good for jam, opened dressings and sauces, butter, baked goods and drinks.
  • The middle level of the refrigerator is suitable for dairy products such as yogurt, cream, cottage cheese and cheese, as well as home-made dishes. Eggs and fresh milk also keep longer here than in the refrigerator door.
  • On the glass top in the lower part of the refrigerator it is coldest. This is the ideal place for perishable foods such as meat, sausage and fish.
  • Among them are the Boxes for fruit and vegetables. It is slightly warmer here because the glass shelf above it keeps the cold out. These compartments are suitable for storing vegetables, herbs and fruit.

You can also easily find out which foods are best placed where in your refrigerator.

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