Green Lifestyle

Published on October 14th, 2019 | by Scott Cooney


Buying a new refrigerator? Here’s how to get an eco-friendly one to save money and pollution

If you’re considering a new refrigerator, here’s some steps to make sure you get one that saves you money and reduces your footprint for years to come.

Step 1. Shop around for a freezer-on-top model. According to Energy Star (see ‘Buying Guide’ in that link), this is the most efficient setup. ES cites 360kWh per year for a freezer on top model, and 560 per year for an equivalent freezer on bottom setup.

Step 2. Size your fridge appropriately. Estimate about 5-6 cubic foot per person, plus some overage. But a family of four doesn’t need 24 cubic feet–figure that many meals will be eaten together and shopping trips will probably happen more frequently than four individual adults sharing a fridge. But generally, figure that slightly bigger is slightly more energy, but slightly smaller gets to a point where someone, down the line in that house, will probably suggest a second fridge if the one you buy is too small, and as we’ve pointed out here before, the second fridge is a huge energy suck.

Step 3. Set your filters to only show you Energy Star appliances with LED lights. Easy – most online retailers have filters you can check boxes on (for size, as well as Energy Star certified, and other options).

Step 4. Read the EnergyGuide labels. Those little yellow labels will give you an apples to apples comparison that’s easy to understand – how much energy this fridge will use, and then how much that will cost, given an average electricity cost.

Easy – peezy.

More details

As far as I can see, Energy Star is still a good (notice I don’t say “excellent”… more on that in a sec) program and hasn’t been gutted as much in the last 3 years like 85 other human and environmental health protections have. Thankfully, this step is easy. The Energy Star logo will be found on Energy Star products. And if shopping online, you can actually click a button to filter your search results:


Don’t stop there…read the actual yellow Energy Use label.

Energy Star is just the first step. It’s kind of a “yes/no” thing as to whether an appliance qualifies. But is one fridge much better than another? If they’re both Energy Star, then the ES logo itself doesn’t really help you get the best answer and the best fridge.

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About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on

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