Refrigerator
Refrigerator

Energy efficiency

In a house without air-conditioning (space heating and/or cooling) refrigerators consumed more energy than any other home device. In the early 1990s a competition was held among the major manufacturers to encourage energy efficiency. Current US models that are Energy Star qualified use 50% less energy than the average models made in 1974. The most energy-efficient unit made in the US consumes about half a kilowatt-hour per day (equivalent to 20 W continuously). But even ordinary units are quite efficient; some smaller units use less than 0.2 kWh per day (equivalent to 8 W continuously). Larger units, especially those with large freezers and icemakers, may use as much as 4 kWh per day (equivalent to 170 W continuously). The European Union uses a letter-based mandatory energy efficiency rating label instead of the Energy Star; thus EU refrigerators at the point of sale are labelled according to how energy-efficient they are.
For US refrigerators, the Consortium on Energy Efficiency (CEE) further differentiates between Energy Star qualified refrigerators. Tier 1 refrigerators are those that are 20% to 24.9% more efficient than the Federal minimum standards set by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA). Tier 2 are those that are 25% to 29.9% more efficient. Tier 3 is the highest qualification, for those refrigerators that are at least 30% more efficient than Federal standards. About 82% of the Energy Star qualified refrigerators are Tier 1, with 13% qualifying as Tier 2, and just 5% at Tier 3. Besides the standard style of compressor refrigeration used in normal household refrigerators and freezers, there are technologies such as absorption refrigeration and magnetic refrigeration. Although these designs generally use a much larger amount of energy compared to compressor refrigeration, other qualities such as silent operation or the ability to use gas can favor these refrigeration units in small enclosures, a mobile environment or in environments where unit failure would lead to devastating consequences.
Many refrigerators made in the 1930s and 1940s were far more efficient than most that were made later. This is partly attributable to the addition of new features, such as auto-defrost, that reduced efficiency. Additionally, after World War 2, refrigerator style became more important than efficiency. This was especially true in the USA in the 1970s, when side-by-side models (known as American fridgefreezers outside of the US) with ice dispensers and water chillers became popular. However, the reduction in efficiency also arose partly from reduction in the amount of insulation to cut costs.