Domestic fridge power consumption is typically between 100 and 250 watts.
Over a full day, a fridge records between 1 to 2 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of total energy usage, or about $150 per year per fridge.
These figures can be validated for your refrigerator by using a plug-in power meter like this.
Before you think, "okay, great - now I know how much power my fridge uses", I'm sorry to say, but it's not quite that simple!
In the following post, I'll outline how you can completely understand your fridge or freezer's power usage.
What Affects Fridge Power Use
The actual energy consumption of your fridge or freezer will depend on many factors. These include:
- Type. For example, a commercial display fridge can use ten times more than your bar fridge at home.
- Size. Anything with a larger volume, such as side-by-side fridges, use more electricity.
- Location. If the refrigerator is in a warm location or poorly ventilated, it will use more power.
- Season. All refrigerators use more energy in summer than in winter as the ambient temperature is higher.
- Usage. If the fridge door is opened frequently or held open, the compressor will need to work harder to keep things cool. Also, an empty fridge may need to work harder than a reasonably-stocked fridge because more 'cool air' is replaced with 'warm air' when the door is opened.
- Temperature set point. The factory setting may keep the fridge cooler than needed.
- Age. Old refrigerators are usually less energy efficient than new high star rated fridges.
- Condition. If the seals are in poor condition, your fridge will be less efficient.
So, How Much Power Does a Fridge Use?
For a quick check of fridge wattage, find the compliance plate and make some quick calculations. The compliance plate is usually located inside the fridge.
The fridge compliance plate is a useful first approximation of power usage. In this case, it indicates the fridge uses 130 Watts when on.
For example, for my refrigerator, the numbers are:
- Refrigerator wattage = 130 Watts
- Estimated usage = 8 hours per day (33% duty cycle)
- Total energy = 130W x 8h = 1040Wh = 1.04kWh/day
- Total cost = 1.04kWh/day x 365 days x $0.25/kWh = $94.90/year
Basic Refrigerator Power Consumption Calculator
To summarise the above calculation, we have:
- Fridge Wattage x Hours Per Day = Watt-hours per day
- Watt-hours / 1000 = kWh per day
The above fridge power consumption calculator is not very accurate because the fridge may not consume its rated wattage. Also, the compliance plate does not account for all the other variables that affect power usage. For example, your fridge may have a fault or other issue causing it to operate for 16 hours per day, not 8. That alone would double its usage!
Better Fridge Power Consumption Calculator
To find out the actual wattage of your refrigerator, you need to use a power meter. Our Plug-in Power Meter is the most popular and cheapest option. The Power Mate Lite is our highest accuracy option, often used by professional energy auditors.
Use a plug-in power meter to check your fridge's power consumption.
These devices have the benefit of measuring rather than estimating. You can plug your fridge in for a full 24 hour period and see how many kWh it uses. More importantly, you can make some changes and see if you can reduce your energy consumption.
Want to check your whole property's power usage, not just the fridge? See our range of wireless energy monitors.
What About The Fridge Star Rating?
Energy efficiency 'star ratings' are a great buying guide. But because of the variable factors described above, the only way to know how much power your fridge is really consuming is to use a plug-in power meter.
Fridge Wattage of Other Fridges
Using a Power Meter, I found that the small fridge in our office used between 90 and 100 Watts when the compressor was running. That resulted in 0.6 kWh used over 24 hours, or around 221 kWh per year. The Power Meter showed that the fridge drew power for only 6 hours and 10 minutes in 24 hours.
Commercial refrigeration is more complex to measure, but the opportunities for energy savings are much greater. Some of the businesses I have completed business energy audits initially spent well over half of their electricity costs on refrigeration.
Check out this commercial refrigerator which is almost empty and still burning through over $1,000 per year in electricity costs! As measured with a Power-Mate Lite.
Four Ways to Cut Fridge Power Consumption
1. Ensure fridges are well ventilated. Often fridges are jammed in between wall cabinets which makes their power consumption increase substantially.
2. Consolidate the number of fridges in use. If you have a spare fridge in the garage and only partially fill it, empty it and switch it off.
3. Use timer switches on drinks fridges and bar fridges. This way, any refrigerator that does not contain perishable food is only on when it's needed.
4. Check and adjust the temperature settings. Freezers, in particular, are often set far too cold. Use a thermometer to check and change your settings. For domestic refrigeration, 4˚C for the fridge and -15˚C for the freezer is sufficient and safe.
Is Refrigeration Power Usage Even an Issue?
Don't forget that refrigeration is only responsible for around 10% of energy usage in most homes. Although, it can be much higher in businesses like cafes, clubs, and restaurants. So, if you want to cut your energy usage, refrigeration is an excellent place to start, but I also recommend:
- Installing a wireless energy monitor to see your entire home or business power usage in real-time.
- Upgrade all your lights to LED - particularly those tube lights inside display fridges.
- Switch to more sensible forms of heating and cooling.
- Use these energy-saving devices to reduce the energy usage of other appliances.