How Much Power Does a Refrigerator Consume?

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While a refrigerator serves as an ideal cooling machine, its regular energy consumption can sometimes cause our electricity bills to flare up. Understanding the power consumption of heavy domestic electrical appliances like a refrigerator helps us keep a check on our electricity bills.

In this article, we share with you an understanding of energy labels that refrigerators carry and what do they mean. We also give you an insight into how different compressors can cause your electricity bills to shoot up or stay regulated. Read on to learn how storing stuff in a refrigerator can directly affect your electricity bills and much more.

Understanding BEE Label Rating

refrigerator power consumption

Every time you go shopping for an electrical appliance like a TV, refrigerator, or air conditioner you can spot the BEE star labels that adorn these appliances. But do you understand what they stand for?

BEE star labels reflect how much electricity is consumed by an appliance during a year. Five stars indicate that the machine is highly efficient while a lower star indicates vice-versa. These star labels are issued by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), a government agency that comes within the purview of the Ministry of Power.

BEE star ratings are based on complex calculations. However, what one should understand is that a higher star rating means a more efficient appliance that lowers your electricity bill every month. Check the validity period on the label as BEE keeps updating the star label system frequently.  So, a 5 star rated refrigerator in 2018 would have just a 3 or 4-star rating in 2021. A 5 star AC in 2021 is a 4 star AC in 2023.

Further, if you look closely, the BEE label mentions the number of units that each appliance consumes every year. Take it as a cue to compare the energy consumption of various options and understand the overall effect on your electricity bill. But do not consider this as a definite value as the BEE calculates the energy consumption of an empty refrigerator without any food load. 

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How Compressors Affect the Energy Consumption of a Refrigerator?

The compressor is the heart of a refrigerator. It controls the cooling of the appliance. If you have an old refrigerator, then most likely, it has a reciprocating single-speed compressor. It is based on the ‘on’ and ‘off’ technology. It runs at the maximum speed for a while and then switches itself off. After a while, when a rise in internal temperature is detected, it starts running again at its top speed. So no matter the quantity of food kept, weather or other conditions, the compressor runs at the top speed and switches itself off.

Refrigerators with reciprocatory compressors incur higher energy bills. Moreover, they are not quite durable either, as it constantly switches on and off resulting in higher wear and tear.

Related reading: Refrigerators With Water Dispenser: Is It Worth It?

How does a refrigerator with inverter technology help you save power?

A compressor equipped with inverter technology works like a car accelerator. This means the sensors speed up or reduces the speed of the compressor according to internal and external conditions. When you open the door, keep new food inside or when it is hot outside, the inverter technology pushes the compressor to work at a higher capacity consuming more power to cool down quickly.

 Alternatively, during winters when the cooling needs are less, the compressor consumes less power and works at a lower speed. Similarly, during summer nights when the temperature falls, the inverter compressors run at a slower speed. This results in decreased power consumption.

Rather than continuous ‘switching on’ and ‘off’ like regular compressors, inverter compressors never switch off and maintain a regulated temperature at a slower speed throughout. As a result, they are less noisy as compared to regular compressors and consume less power.

Fortunately, most of the refrigerators available in the market nowadays have inverter compressors. But, cheaper ones don’t. So, take a good look at the product specification to ensure that you buy a refrigerator with an inverter compressor.

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Does a Bigger Refrigerator Mean More Power Consumption?

refrigerator power consumption- large refrigerator higher energy consumption

The size of the refrigerator indeed affects the power consumption. To be more specific, single-door refrigerators consume less power as compared to double-door fridges.

Double-door refrigerators come in large sizes about 235 to 500 litres. The power consumption is no doubt more in double-door refrigerators. Further, they work in the frost-free mode which means the use of electrical fans to circulate cool air. This again increases the power consumption.

Can Overcrowding Your Refrigerator Flare Up Your Electricity Bill?

refrigerator power consumption- overcrowded or too empty?

Over-filling any space can hamper its utility and efficiency. Similarly overcrowding the refrigerator with foodstuff, and groceries can obstruct the flow of cool air in the cooling chamber. This in turn decreases the efficiency of the appliance. Adequate free space allows easy flow of cold air and easy absorption of heat, thereby maintaining the desired temperature. Ideally, you should fill your refrigerator only to 70% of its capacity.

On the other hand, if the refrigerator isn’t filled appropriately, a lot more cold air will escape every time you open the door. Warm air replaces the lost cold air, which in turn has to be cooled again. So, it will be excess work for the compressor.

Tips To Reduce Energy Consumption of Your Refrigerator

  • Limit opening the fridge. The temptation to check out something new in the fridge is strong. If at all you need to open it, just take a peek and close the door quickly. This will prevent hot air from entering the cooling chamber. Frequent opening of refrigerator door can increase energy consumption by 7%.
  • Check the temperature settings. Setting the fridge and freezer in a medium is usually sufficient to cool your food optimally. Options like high cooling, quick cooling, express cooling etc, puts extra pressure on the compressor which results in higher electricity consumption.

    If you set the refrigerator temperature lower than necessary, it could lead to a 20-25% increase in power consumption.
  • Ensure that the food is completely cool before placing it in the fridge. This way the refrigerator does not have to take extra effort (extra power consumption) to cool it down.
  • Ensure the refrigerator is sufficiently full, but never overcrowded. Allowing air to properly circulate results in better cooling efficacy.
  • If the fridge does not have an auto-defrost feature then do not let ice accumulate in the freezer. It decreases the efficiency of the condenser putting extra stress on the compressor.
  • Clean the refrigerator regularly, especially the condenser coils. This helps reduce energy consumption by around 5%.
  • Place your refrigerator away from heating appliances like oven, gas stove, kettle etc. Also, ensure that there is at least a 5 cm gap from the walls.

A refrigerator is perhaps one of the appliances that contribute a major share of your electricity bill. Understanding how you can save power by efficiently using it is a smart way to cut down your power expenses.

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