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How to Calculate your Fridge’s Electric Consumption?

how much electricity does a refrigerator use

No modern home would be complete without a refrigerator. After all, who doesn’t want cold drinks and fresh food right within their reach? And this is provided by this household appliance. Unfortunately, a fridge uses up a lot of electricity, typically accounting for around one-sixth of an average US household’s power consumption.  

Because it’s a machine that makes our lives more comfortable, we take the hefty charges it adds to our electricity bill, believing that we can’t do anything to lower its energy consumption. However, if you aim to have an energy-efficient home, you’ll need to determine the electricity costs of your appliances. Doing so is one way to manage your power consumption.  

So how many watts does a refrigerator use? The answer depends on several factors, which we’ll now look into to help you better understand this vital appliance’s power usage.  

Type of Fridge

Like with most household appliances, such as a clothes dryer or an AC unit, the type of fridge you have affects how much electricity it uses.

Bottom-Mount Freezer

Bottom-mount refrigerators also called bottom freezer refrigerators, have a fresh food section on top and a freezer compartment at the bottom. The advantages of these models are better access to fresh foods and beverages, which are likely the products you use the most, and bigger freezer space, especially when compared to their top-mount counterparts.  

However, when it comes to energy efficiency, bottom-mount fridges often consume more kilowatt-hours. In modern refrigerators, the compressor sits at the lower portion of the unit close to the freezer. Because compressors generate heat while they work to cool the fridge’s compartments, it affects the temperature inside the freezer, forcing the motor to work harder to maintain the optimum temperature.  

Side-by-Side Fridges

Side-by-side refrigerators have two separate compartments, each featuring its own door. The freezer container is on one side, while the fresh food compartment is on the other. One of the significant advantages of these models is convenience because they allow you to better organize and easily access your foodstuff.  

This type of fridge uses more electricity in terms of energy consumption, with an Energy Star-certified model taking up around 630 kWh or about $75 a year, on average. In comparison, a bottom-mount freezer with an Energy Star rating requires around 560 kWh or $70 a year to run.  

Top-Mount Freezer

This fridge type generally uses less energy compared to other models. Top-mount freezers owe their lower power consumption to the refrigerator’s design, where the heat-producing compressor is tucked at the bottom of the unit, well away from the freezer.  

On average, the energy consumption of top-mount fridges with Energy Star certifications is around 360 kWh. This slashes about $45 a year on your electricity costs.  

Factors Affecting Energy Consumption

Power consumption is not only based on the location of the fridge’s freezer. Other aspects can influence your appliance’s power usage and, in effect, your energy savings.  

  • Size: The larger your fridge is, the more power it consumes due to the space that needs cooling.  
  • Condition: Rubber gaskets around your freezer and fridge doors keep cold air in. Leaky seals affect the energy efficiency of your refrigerator because the compressor needs to work harder to maintain the temperature inside your appliance. Some simple tests will tell you if you need to replace your gaskets.  
  • Age: Old conventional models generally have higher power usage than newer Energy Star certified refrigerators.  
  • Kitchen’s ambient temperature: Higher ambient temperatures make the compressor run more to maintain the temperature in the fridge’s compartments, thus increasing the kilowatt-hours it consumes.  
  • Location of the fridge: Warm or poorly ventilated areas will lead to increased electricity usage and possible breakdowns due to overheating.  
  • Refrigerator’s temperature set point: The factory setting of your fridge may be too cold for your needs. Ideally, the temperature dial should be around 4-5°C for your refrigerator and -18°C for your freezer. Increasing the setting by 1°C will hike your power consumption by 5%-10%.  
  • Usage: Frequently opening and closing the fridge door lets in warm air, forcing the compressor to work double-time to keep things cool. Moreover, an empty fridge uses more energy than a fully stocked one because more warm air gets in every time the door opens. 

How Many Watts Does it Take to Run a Refrigerator?

Next to the AC unit, your fridge comes next in using the most electricity in your home, consuming around 350-780 watts per day. Let’s see how we can estimate your unit’s power usage.  

Identify Your Fridge’s Volts and Amps

You’ll first need to identify the wattage of your refrigerator. You can usually find this in a sticker on the inside wall of your fridge or at the back of the unit. It’s also listed in the user’s manual. Locate the figures stating the appliance’s volts and amps. If it’s an old fridge, it likely uses 115 volts and 7 amps. New ones usually run on 5 amps.  

Estimate the Running Wattage

You can use the information you found in your refrigerator’s compliance plate or manual to estimate its running wattage, which is the amount of power it draws in a continuous mode.  

Multiply the volts with the amps to get the running wattage. The equation goes like this:  


Compute for the Cost

To determine how much it costs to run your fridge, multiply the running wattage by the number of hours the unit operates. In the case of your refrigerator, you can assume that it works 24 hours a day, so your equation will look like this if we use 350 as the unit’s running watts.    

24 x 130 = 8,400

Divide the answer by 1,000 to convert watts into kilowatts and get the per kilowatt-hour costs.  

8,400 ÷ 1,000 = 8.4 kWh  

This means that your refrigerator uses 8.4 kilowatt-hours per day. Using this figure, you can compute the appliance’s monthly costs by multiplying the kWh by the number of days in a month and then by the power price in your area.  

8.4 x 30 = 252 kWh  

Let’s assume that your area’s power rate is $0.10 per kWh.  

252 x .10 = 25.2

That’s $25.20 a month.

However, many factors will influence how much power your fridge consumes, so this is just a rough estimate.  

Using a Generator to Power Your Fridge

In today’s changing climate, power outages are becoming frequent occurrences. If you have a generator, you might consider using it to run your refrigerator. But before you do so, determine if your generator’s capacity can safely power your fridge.

Here’s how:  

  1. Aside from your refrigerator’s rated wattage, you’ll need to account for its starting wattage, which is the initial jolt of energy required to start the compressor. If you can’t find the starting wattage, you can compute it using the rated wattage indicated in your unit’s nameplate or manual.  
  2. Multiply the rated wattage by 1.5 to estimate the starting wattage. As an example, let’s assume that your refrigerator runs at 700 watts. (700 x 1.5 = 1,050)  
  3. Check the output rating of your generator to find out if it’s big enough to cover the starting watts of your fridge. A generator with a 1,500 output rating will safely power your fridge, which requires 1,050 to start the compressor. In contrast, one with a power output of 800 watts will likely blow a fuse or trip the breaker due to insufficient capacity.  
  4. For safety, use heavy-duty cords to connect the generator and your fridge. Skinny extension cords won’t do and may become fire hazards if they overheat.  

Using Your Refrigerator More Efficiently

Here are a few ways you can reduce your refrigerator’s power consumption.

Keep Away from Heat Sources

Refrigerators use more power to keep the compartments cool when the surrounding air is hot. To save on your electric bills, place your unit away from hot spots such as large windows that let plenty of sun in or next to heat-producing appliances like stoves or ovens. Also, make sure that your fridge is in a well-ventilated area and not jammed in between the wall and kitchen cabinets.

Get the Right Temperature Setting

Freezers and fridges that are too cold waste energy. Set your unit to the right temperature. You can use a thermometer to ensure optimization in that area. You can also employ these common guidelines: 4˚C for the fridge and -15˚C for the freezer.  

Always Keep your fridge clean  

Although an empty refrigerator tends to use more power, especially when you frequently open and close the door, filling one up over its capacity will lead to the same problem. So make it a habit to clean your fridge regularly, say, every 3 months, to get rid of old food and beverages. While you’re at it, sweep or vacuum under the unit, dust the coils at the back and wash the kick plate as well.  

Cool Anything First

Putting piping hot dishes inside your fridge will force the compressor to work harder, thus consuming more power. So cool cooked food down to room temperature before they go into the refrigerator.  


Can a 2000 watt generator run a refrigerator?

You can use a generator to run your refrigerator and other appliances as long as the generator’s capacity is higher than the starting watts of what you intend to power it with. That means a 2000-watts generator can safely run your fridge if its surge wattage is lower than 2,000 watts.  

How many amps does a small refrigerator use?

On average, a 20-cubic feet mini-refrigerator consumes between 185 and 280 watts or the equivalent of 0.185 and 0.28 kilowatt-hours.  

Is an inverter refrigerator worth it?

Although inverter refrigerators typically cost more than conventional models, you can quickly recover the extra upfront costs from the amount you save on your power bills.  

Refrigerator compressors with inverter technology don’t switch off when the temperature stabilizes. Instead, they run at slower speeds to maintain the optimum coolness inside the compartments, thus consuming less energy, resulting in lower power expenses.  

Will a 1000 watt inverter run a refrigerator?

The answer depends on the refrigerator wattage, particularly its starting or surge wattage. For example, a fridge that consumes 1000 watts a day may require 2,000 watts of surge power to start. So a typical 1000 watt inverter with a 2000 surge peak capacity will be enough for your refrigerator.  

Final Thoughts

Your refrigerator is not the only appliance that consumes energy. But because it needs a lot of power to run, optimizing its use for energy efficiency will let you see savings on your utility expenses. Thus, knowing how to use your fridge wisely is an excellent way to leverage your conservation goals.  

Moreover, by knowing how to calculate its power requirements, you’ll be able to make the right choice when you need to shop for a replacement.

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