Choosing The Best EnergyStar Mini Fridge in 2023
Mini fridges used to be popular options mainly for those who lived in dorms, tiny homes, or RVs. However, changes in lifestyle and the high cost of electricity have pushed these small appliances into the limelight as energy-efficient ways to keep food fresh and cold, even for those without space constraints.
We’re not surprised because mini fridges are seriously cool (pun intended) devices that pack a punch when it comes to convenience. They may be small, but they can make your life more comfortable. For one, they let you store snacks and cool drinks in convenient locations, such as the basement or den.
Also, because they’re surprisingly powerful despite their size, they can keep your perishables and beverages cold for hours. This means extra storage space when your regular-sized fridge is filled to the brim.
Of course, getting an energy efficient mini fridge is one of the best ways to keep your electricity bills down while enjoying the benefits offered by this small but extremely useful appliance. So, how do you select the compact refrigerator that will fit your needs and lifestyle? Let us help you with that.
What is a Mini Fridge?
A mini fridge is not all that different from a regular-sized refrigerator. Both models do the job of keeping your food fresh and cold. However, mini fridges are specifically made to fit into small spaces. That’s why they’re a hit among students living in dorms or people with tiny apartments.
Another difference is their energy consumption. Mini fridges use less electricity than their full-sized counterparts, making them a great way to save on electricity bills. Of course, you only enjoy that benefit if you go for an energy-efficient model. Otherwise, you could end up racking the same kWhs that come with using a large refrigerator.
If you’re in the market for an energy-efficient mini fridge, the first question that will likely pop into your mind is how much it will cost. That’s not easy to answer as the price can vary greatly depending on the type of mini fridge you’re looking for and its features.
For example, if you just want a basic model without any fancy features, you can probably find one for around $50 to $100. But if you’re looking for one with a freezer compartment, a built-in ice maker, or LED lights, then expect to spend a bit more.
The size of the mini fridge can also affect the cost. If you need a larger one to store more food and drinks, then it will cost more than a smaller model. And don’t forget about the brand – some big-name brands can be more expensive than their lesser-known equivalents.
The amount you’ll have to set aside can range between $50 and $500 or more, depending on the type and features of the mini fridge you opt for.
When it comes to running costs, how much you spend lies on a few factors, such as the size and energy efficiency of the appliance as well as the electricity rates in your area. The dimensions of mini fridges typically range between 1.7 and 4.4 cubic feet. These sizes generally consume about 233 kWh to 310 kWh.
Depending on your state’s electricity rate, energy-efficient mini refrigerators cost about $27 to $50 to run per year. Energy Star-certified models cost less because they’re more energy-efficient.
Advantages of Mini Fridges
A small refrigerator won’t work for you if you store plenty of perishables. But getting a mini fridge makes sense if you live alone, don’t cook that much, or just want extra space for your food. The great news is that opting for an energy-efficient mini refrigerator will let you enjoy certain advantages.
Here are some awesome benefits getting a compact refrigerator brings.
Because of their size, mini fridges can fit in spaces that won’t accommodate a standard refrigerator. This feature makes them an ideal option if you live in a studio apartment, dorm room, or small house, as it helps maximize the square footage available to you.
As they occupy only several inches, you can place them in tight areas, such as inside closets, under your desk, or on countertops, freeing up valuable floor space. Moreover, they come in different sizes, so the chances are high that you’ll find the dimensions that fit your room’s layout.
Again, due to their size, you can place mini fridges in any room. So if you want an extra refrigerator for storing small food items in your living or sleeping area, getting an energy-efficient mini fridge won’t be a problem. It certainly won’t cost you an arm and a leg in electricity bills, particularly if it bears an Energy Star rating.
Lightweight and portable
Imagine how troublesome it would be to move a regular refrigerator to another section of your home or take it with you when you relocate. You won’t face the same problem with a mini fridge. The appliance’s compact size and light weight means you can lug it around with ease.
Are you having a pool party and want cold drinks within your reach? You can place your mini fridge by the poolside and bring it back inside at night without any help. That’s how portable these appliances are. They’ll even fit in a car, which can be handy if you’re planning a long road trip or camping adventure.
Ease of use and installation
You won’t need special skills or tools to install a mini fridge. All it takes is finding a suitable spot to place the refrigerator and an electrical outlet, and that’s it. Simply plug the unit into the power socket and adjust the temperature settings according to your needs. For extra help, you can turn to the user manual that comes with the unit. This provides clear instructions on how to set up and operate the mini fridge.
Using the appliance doesn’t require the IQ of a rocket scientist, as compact fridges are simple to operate. Most models have a single temperature control knob that allows you to adjust the temperature to your liking. Other units may have additional features such as interior lighting, adjustable shelves, and freezer compartments but no worries there. Those features are pretty straightforward to use.
Low energy consumption
Although the energy consumption of a mini fridge varies depending on a few factors, in most cases, it’s lower than what a standard refrigerator uses. Consumer reports show that full-sized Energy Star-certified refrigerators cost about $35 to $40 to run annually. Compare that with an energy-efficient mini fridge that will add only about $27 to $30 to your energy bill.
The energy savings you get from the reduced consumption of an energy-efficient mini fridge help minimize your environmental impact. That’s because lower electricity usage means less fossil fuel gets burned to generate electric power, thus lowering the amount of greenhouse gasses that go into the atmosphere.
Disadvantages of Mini Fridges
Okay, you’ve seen why getting an energy-efficient mini fridge can be a wise investment. But before you go rushing out to buy one, there are some things you should consider. Like any appliance, compact refrigerators have their drawbacks, too, and it’s important to know the potential downsides before making a purchase.
Not much storage space
When it comes to space, a mini fridge won’t give a standard refrigerator a run for its money. As its name implies, it’s a mini version, so it also offers mini storage space. You might have to make tough choices about what to keep and leave out. Also, fitting in large items can be challenging.
Another issue with the space constraint is that it makes it difficult to organize your food. Without enough room for shelves and compartments, you might have to stack items on top of each other or squeeze them into tight spaces. Because you can’t readily see what’s inside, it increases the chances of food going bad before you get a chance to eat it, leading to food waste.
No temperature control
A small refrigerator may get top marks regarding energy efficiency, but it doesn’t allow you to control its temperature. Unlike standard fridges that typically come with a temperature thermostat, most mini refrigerators lack this feature. As such, you’ll have to make do with the default setting of the unit.
This could lead to food spoilage as certain foods require a specific temperature to stay fresh. Also, you might be unable to stock up on items that need a regulated temperature. Examples of these are medications, wine, and certain cheeses.
Can’t store frozen items
Most compact refrigerators don’t come with a freezer compartment. If your mini fridge is one of those models, you won’t be able to store frozen food items, such as ice cream and meat. The temperature of small fridges is typically between 35-42 degrees F. However, the safe temperature for storing frozen food is -0.04 degrees F, much lower than a mini fridge can offer.
So you’re out of luck if you want to keep ice cream or other freezer products in your mini fridge. You’ll have to purchase a model with a freezer compartment, but those often come with a higher sticker price.
Tips on How to Choose the Most Energy Efficient Mini Fridge
Mini refrigerators come in handy for storing cold drinks and snacks. They’re also energy-efficient, particularly if you opt for an Energy Star-certified model. However, these appliances aren’t created equal, and you’ll have to research to ensure you get a model that helps you save money and has a lower global warming potential.
Here are some tips to remember when searching for a mini fridge that tailor-fits your needs and budget.
The power source is a critical consideration when shopping for an energy-efficient mini fridge because it can affect the unit’s energy efficiency and running costs. Natural gas and electricity are the most popular fuel sources for small refrigerators. You plug an electric mini fridge into a power socket, while you’ll need a gas line for a model that uses natural gas.
An electric-powered mini fridge is generally the more energy-efficient option. One with an Energy Star sticker is your best bet when it comes to energy efficiency. However, because this mini fridge type runs on electricity, you won’t be able to use it during power outages, unlike its counterpart, which uses natural gas.
Brand Credibility & Track Record
Don’t just buy the first energy-efficient mini fridge you come across. Several manufacturers produce compact fridges, and most tout them as energy-efficient refrigerators. To get the most bang for your buck, it’s a good idea to research the various brands and the manufacturer’s track record.
If a company has a reputation for producing low-quality or unreliable fridges, then you may want to steer clear of even their energy-efficient models. On the other hand, if a brand is known for producing high-quality, durable appliances, then you can feel confident that its product will meet your expectations.
Moreover, this also can give you insight into the level of customer support you can expect if something goes wrong with your mini fridge. A company with a good reputation for customer service will be more likely to offer quick and efficient solutions if you have any issues with your appliance.
Energy Star Rating
An Energy Star rating means the appliance has been certified to meet specific energy efficiency standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A mini fridge gets this certification if it is at least 20% more efficient than other models.
The Energy Star rating guarantees that you’re getting an energy-efficient model. As such, the mini fridge can help you save on your energy expenses and reduce your carbon footprint. So look for this rating to ensure you purchase an energy-efficient mini fridge.
The manufacture date of the appliance will give you an idea of its efficiency. New models tend to be more energy-efficient than fridges 15 years old or more. Also, mini fridge technology is constantly evolving, with recent models offering more advanced features like digital temperature controls, energy-saving features, and noise reduction.
Another reason the manufacture date is important is that it can give you an idea of how long the fridge has been sitting around before you bought it. A unit that has been sitting on a store shelf for months or even years may have already started to degrade in quality. It may have suffered from wear and tear during shipping, or its components may have begun to break down. This can lead to a shorter lifespan and potentially more repairs in the future.
Recyclability of Materials
Another factor to consider in your quest for an energy-efficient mini fridge is the materials and components used in making the unit. As much as possible, opt for one that’s made with materials that can be recycled.
Recycling is crucial for reducing waste and conserving resources. When materials like plastic, metal, and glass are recycled, they can be turned into new products rather than ending up in landfills or polluting the environment. So a mini fridge made from recyclable materials will help reduce the waste that goes into the country’s landfills.
The coolant is responsible for keeping the temperature inside the fridge at a specific level. Some coolants used in refrigerators, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), can affect the ozone layer and contribute to global warming.
Some companies in the country use HFC-32 and HFC-152a, which are more eco-friendly. So check what coolant is used in the unit when you shop for your energy-efficient mini fridge. This helps ensure you save money and the environment.
Most Energy Efficient Mini Fridges in the Market
You’re in luck if you’re looking for a small fridge that won’t significantly hike your home’s energy consumption. There are plenty of energy-efficient refrigerators of varying sizes in the market, so you have a high chance of getting the one that meets all your requirements.
The list is endless, even if you consider only those with the Energy Star label. So to narrow the field, here are our recommendations. Take a look at the following models that are perfect for any dorm room or small apartment.
Liebherr UR 501
This small refrigerator with the Energy Star label boasts many outstanding features. These include LED lights, a touch control system, adjustable legs to set the height, and a soft-stop mechanism that closes the door gently. Add to that are its ventilation plinth and a left interchangeable door with an opening angle of 115 degrees (you can change this to 90 degrees).
The Liebherr UR 501 has adjustable glass shelves that allow you to refrigerate tall bottles. What’s more, it has automatic defrosting and a visible and audible door open warning. With a power consumption of only 0.586 kWh for 24 hours, you’ll reduce energy waste with this model.
BLACK+DECKER BCRK25B Compact Refrigerator
Everyone knows that Black+Decker makes top-notch fridges, so you can’t go wrong with this model. It gets top marks for being environmentally friendly for using R-600a, an Energy Star-recommended coolant.
What sets it apart from other small fridges is its adjustable thermostat, so you can select the temperature according to your needs, and its internal freezer that lets you store frozen goods. It even has a free ice cube tray.
GE GME04GGKBB Compact Refrigerator
Another small fridge with the Energy Star label is the GE GME04GGKBB Compact Refrigerator. What’s great about this model? For one, it uses an eco-friendly coolant. Plus, it offers 3.93 cu. ft. of usable space and its freezer space is 0.47 cu. ft.
It has 3 glass shelves, tall bottle door storage, door wire shelves, a chiller, and defrost tray. These features make the GE GME04GGKBB Compact Refrigerator ideal for dorm rooms, game rooms, and small apartments.
Upstreman Black-FR17 Mini Fridge with Freezer
Energy waste is a thing of the past if you opt for this mini fridge from Upstreman. It’s another environmentally friendly model that uses an R600-a coolant. You can store food in this compact cooler and not worry about its energy use of only 208 kWh a year.
It has a freezer and an adjustable thermostat that lets you set the temperature between 33.8 and 46.4 degrees F. The mini fridge’s slightly smaller dimensions make it a perfect fit for college dorm rooms. You can also use it for your home bars.
Furrion 3.3 cu. ft. Mini Fridge
The Furrion brand is more popular with RV owners. However, don’t let that stop you from considering this little beauty that comes with innovative and eco-friendly features. It has interior LED lighting, adjustable legs, a thermostat, a reversible door hinge, and energy-saving manual defrost.
Its annual energy use only comes to just 151 kWh, as the model is designed for off-grid living. For the same reason, the Furrion Mini Fridge is a low-noise model because the cramped space inside an RV often requires you to sleep beside the fridge. All in all, this model uses the least energy among the fridges on our list.
How much Does it Cost a Month to Run a Mini Fridge?
The energy use of a mini fridge depends on a few factors, such as its energy efficiency, size, and how long it operates. As such, the running costs will vary based on these considerations. A reasonable estimate would be $2.5 to $3.5 a month.
Do Mini Fridges Use a Lot of Electricity?
Different factors will affect a mini fridge’s power consumption. However, in general, small refrigerators are designed to be energy efficient and use relatively low amounts of electricity compared to larger refrigerators. A full-sized refrigerator typically consumes about 725 kWh per year. In contrast, the running costs of a small fridge are significantly lower, at approximately 110 kWh.
Is it Cheaper to Run a Small Fridge?
Running a small fridge is definitely cheaper than operating large appliances, such as a full-sized refrigerator. For example, a window AC uses between 500 and 1,500 watts, while a regular refrigerator consumes approximately 100 to 250 watts. Meanwhile, the power consumption of a small fridge can be a measly 0.356 kWh a day.
Should You Leave a Mini Fridge on All Night?
Refrigerators, whether large or small, are meant to run 24/7. So yes, you can leave a mini fridge on all night. That said, there are a few things to consider. One is its energy consumption. Continuously operating the unit can add to your home’s total energy usage. Another consideration is the noise the appliance creates. Some models make plenty of noise when running, which can disturb your sleep.
Energy-efficient mini refrigerators are an excellent choice if you’re looking to save money while reducing your environmental impact. These compact appliances are designed to consume less energy without sacrificing cooling performance, making them a win-win for both your wallet and the planet.
By using a mini fridge, you can enjoy the convenience of having a compact refrigerator in your dorm room, office, or home without worrying about the costs of running it. Plus, with the advancements in technology, many models are now even more energy-efficient than before, so you can rest easy knowing that you’re making a sustainable choice.
If you’re in the market for a mini fridge, it’s worth considering the energy efficiency of the models you’re interested in. Not only will you save money in the long run, but you’ll also be doing your part to help protect our planet.