“Of all household appliances, refrigerators have undergone the most impressive changes. Six rounds of progressively stricter standards for refrigerator efficiency took place from 1978 thru 2003.” “The average refrigerator is 60% cheaper and 20% larger than its mid 1970’s counterpart and uses 70% less electricity.”

(Source: Cooler Smarter Practical Steps to Low Carbon Living, 2012, p.121)

Refrigerators are one of the top energy users in most households because they are always on. Today’s fridges use about 1/3 of the energy that was used by fridges of the 1990s. Put another way, if your fridge is more than 15 years old, it’s costing you two or three times as much in electricity as a new EnergyStar refrigerator. While many homes in our area have newer refrigerators,  there are still many older refrigerators in use as well as many second refrigerators in basements and garages that are sucking up lots of electricity to keep a few extra items cold or for periodic use.

 Recommended Actions

Appliances eligible for a rebate must have an ENERGYSTAR logo on the bottom right hand side of the yellow Energy Guide label.

  1. Purchase a new refrigerator if your current one is more than 15 years old. The US EPA Energy Star Web site can help you find the most efficient models. Consumer Reports also has up-to-date reviews of a wide range of models.
  2. Ditch the second fridge – either unplug it and use only as needed, or remove it altogether.
  3. Keep your refrigerator coils clean. Clean coils will make your refrigerator run more efficiently, use less energy, and may triple its lifespan.
  4. Minimize the number of times you open your refrigerator and freezer doors.

Financial Considerations

You can save more than $270 over the next five years and reduce your carbon foot print by 3,600 pounds when replacing an older refrigerator with one that’s earned the ENERGY STAR. Calculate your savings with the “Flip Your Fridge Calculator” at ENERGY STAR.

Typical Pay-Back Periods

If you upgrade your fridge, you can save over $100 in electricity costs every year.

You can save over $200 per year by unplugging a second refrigerator.

Environmental Benefits

You can save more than $270 over the next five years and reduce your carbon footprint by 3,600 pounds when replacing an older refrigerator with one that’s earned the ENERGY STAR.

Recycling your old refrigerator rather than trashing it will prevent old refrigerant and foam from getting into the environment and avoid an extra 10,000 pounds of carbon pollution!


Q: What do I do with my old refrigerator? A: It can cost approximately $150 to have somebody haul an old refrigerator away. However, the transfer station in your town may accept your old refrigerator for a small fee. And residential electric customers who recycle their old and inefficient refrigerators or freezers through the Mass Save® appliance recycling program will be offered no-cost pickup and removal – plus, a $75 rebate. This $75 rebate is made available through the electric Sponsors of Mass Save, including Cape Light Compact, Eversource, National Grid, and Unitil. See link below.

Q: Where do I put my extra food or drinks if I stop using my second refrigerator? A: There are several possible options:

  • Decide whether you truly need your second refrigerator or if you just use it because it’s there.
  • Try using one big refrigerator, which will be much more efficient than using two older fridges.
  • Consider storing extra food for special occasions in a portable cooler.
  • If you must have a second refrigerator, you could buy a new energy efficient compact model and store less food and drink than you do currently. Most refrigerators hold extra food that doesn’t get consumed for a long time.
  • Keep the second refrigerator unplugged for most of the year and just use it at special times, such as holidays and family get-togethers, when you need to store extra food.


  1. Energystar: Compare Residential Rated Refrigerators
  2. Consumer Reports on Refrigerators
  3. MassSave has an incentive program for residents of nearby towns that provides a Free Home Haul-Away Service for old refrigerators.