What Is The Power Consumption Of Refrigerators?

Refrigerator Power Consumption

Refrigerators are a necessary element in every Indian household. What was invented as just a cooling device has advanced technologically over the decades to perform multiple roles. Today, refrigerators are available in varied sizes, framework and performances. With innumerable options available in the market, it isn’t very difficult to decide on the right refrigerator for your home. However, since refrigerators are in use 24/7 for 365 days, consumers have an additional factor to consider before investing in them.

The power supply in India is unreliable and thus it is important to invest in refrigerators that can withstand power cuts and surges. Needless to say, power consumption by the refrigerators is something to look into as they are vital for being economical and for the conservation of energy supply in the country. Energy efficient refrigerators are best represented using high star ratings.

Deciphering Electricity Consumption By Refrigerators

Generally, refrigerators add to 15% of the monthly electricity bill. Ideally, domestic refrigerators consume about 100-200 watts of electricity. However, it is substantial to understand that refrigerators do not use up energy continuously. The electricity is drawn when the compressor needs to kick in or when the interiors are exposed to the outside temperature. So, based on several factors including the make of the refrigerator, its energy consumption can be calculated.

One can either use a power meter to check the efficiency of the refrigerator or calculate the energy consumption manually. All you need to know is the average running wattage for the refrigerator. This can be achieved by dividing the annual rate of consumption mentioned on your BEE rating label by the number of days used.

For example: annual power consumption = 700 KWh

Number of days used = 300

The average wattage of the refrigerator = 2.3 KWh/ 2300 watts per day

How to identify an energy efficient refrigerator?

Energy efficient refrigerators come with a Government approved rating called BEE star rating which represents the refrigerator’s efficiency towards electricity consumption. Refrigerators are rated on a scale of five with the highest rating characterizing its high efficiency. It is always advisable to invest in refrigerators with 4 or higher rating even though they might cost a bit steeper.

BEE Star Rating

Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) star rating was introduced in India in 2006 to help signify the cost saving and power saving potential of electrical appliances. This measure of rating the efficiency was a welcome initiative by the Ministry of Power to help the production of energy efficient household electrical appliances.

As mentioned earlier, the higher the rating, more is its efficiency. These ratings are featured on a label that includes information on the annual power consumption, brand name, category and other practical data. On a BEE label, look for the number of stars in the coloured space. The more the stars on the coloured strip, the more is its efficiency. The next aspect to be featured on the label is the annual power consumption value in units per year (a 1000 watts per hour = 1 unit). Next comes the BEE logo. However, BEE star ratings are available for only frost-free refrigerators.

BEE Star Rating

Power consumption is calculated depending upon the compressor, cooling liquid efficiency (HFC), energy loss during the transmission and the material used in the making of the refrigerator. On the other hand, these ratings also signify environment-friendly appliances that reduce the emission of CFC and other pollutants into the environment.

It is known that the current refrigerators have evolved enough to conserve about 70% of energy. If a 25-year-old refrigerator consumes around 1400 kilowatts per year of electricity, we can be sure that the latest model of the same capacity can work efficiently by consuming just 350- 700 kilowatts per year depending upon the rating.

The following table describing the energy and cost saving potential of a 250 litre frost-free refrigerator with diverse ratings will give you an exact idea on how the star ratings affect the efficiency of the appliance. Considering per unit charge of electricity to be approximately Rs. 2.5 and comparing them with a no star refrigerator that consumes 1100 KWh per year and costs you a bill of Rs 2750/yr, we get

Star Rating Annual Energy Consumption (approx) Annual Electricity Cost (approx) Savings Cost of the Refrigerator (approx) Cost Difference Payback Period (in years)
1 977 Rs 2433 Rs 308 Rs 15000 Rs 1000 3.25
2 782 Rs 1955 Rs 795 Rs 15500 Rs 1500 1.89
3 626 Rs 1565 Rs 1185 Rs 16500 Rs 2500 2.11
4 501 Rs 1253 Rs 1498 Rs 17500 Rs 3500 2.34
5 400 Rs 1000 Rs 1750 Rs 18500 Rs 4500 2.57

Source: Bureau of Energy Efficiency

Inverter Refrigerators Vs Regular Refrigerators

Talking about energy conservation, inverter refrigerators are the latest find in the field of home appliances. Developed in Japan, the inverter technology is quite advanced that works towards saving up to 30-50% of energy when compared to the regular refrigerators. Needless to say, inverter refrigerators do cost a lot. So, which refrigerator proves to be more energy efficient? Let us first find out how the refrigerators work.

Regular Refrigerators: in general, the refrigerant called Hydro Fluoro Carbon (HFC) in its liquid state absorbs all the heat from within the refrigerator and converts it into gas. The compressor then works towards converting the gas to the liquid form of HFC. However, the electricity kicks in only during the compressor part of the cycle. The compressors in regular refrigerators work at their peak irrespective of the external environment once the cool air within the appliance is lost.

Inverter Refrigerators: On the other hand, the compressors under this technology work according to the requirement. Considering a summer environment, the compressor works at a high load in order to maintain a particular temperature within the refrigerator. But, winters do not instigate the compressor to work at an all time high as the environment temperature is pretty low as well. Thus, the consumption of electricity is less in inverter technology. Despite its efficiency, due to its variable speed compressor, inverter refrigerators are not BEE rated.

PLEASE NOTE: BEE rating is based on the annual power consumption, not the compressor efficiency.

Due to the very nature of the difference between the annual power consumption and compressor efficiency, the Ministry of Power has now come up with a new way of rating called Indian Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (ISEER). This rating is now applicable to all kinds of household electrical appliances including the air conditioners.

Let us have a peek at the difference between a BEE high rated refrigerator and an inverter refrigerator.

Feature BEE Rated Refrigerator Inverter Refrigerator 
Noise Produces a considerable amount of noise Silently functions
Compressor efficiency Comparatively less Very high
Compressor speed Fixed Varies according to the external environment and requirement
Auto shut-off Yes, compressor switches on/off when required The compressor rate remains constant
Star rating BEE rated Not applicable
price Affordable Expensive
Energy saving capacity Decent Very high

Energy Saving Tips To Keep Your Refrigerator Costs Low

Here are some simple yet great energy saving techniques to reduce and keep up the low maintenance cost.

1. Keep the temperature settings in check

Temperature level within your refrigerator plays a crucial role in deciding your electricity bill. Maintaining unnecessary low temperatures can increase the power consumption and in turn your bill. Ideal refrigerator temperature should be between 2-4℃ while the freezer should always maintain a temperature of -15℃  to -17℃.  If the temperature inside the refrigerator is too warm or too cold, there are high chances of your food getting spoiled as well. In case you need to check the temperature within the device, place a thermometer in a glass of liquid (water) and let it sit up to 24 hours. Similarly, place a thermometer between two frozen cubes of ice or any food item for 24 hours to check the temperature within the freezer.

2. Keep the refrigerator full

Yes, as bizarre as it sounds, the more you store into your refrigerator, the more efficient you find it to be. However, overcrowding should be avoided allowing the air to circulate equally all around the refrigerator. A loaded refrigerator retains the ideal temperature better than an empty one. If you find yourself with an almost empty refrigerator, fill them up with water containers or other liquid items. This will improve the adaptability nature of the device. It is also important to cover your liquids and other food items before storing them. Open food products tend to dry out while the moisture lost makes the compressor work harder in turn affecting the power consumption.

3. Place your refrigerator strategically

The setting around the refrigerators makes a huge difference in deciding their efficiency. These appliances need a lenient space around them to help with the air circulation. Overcrowding the space by placing it in between cabinets or storage units might hinder its performance. Also, it is important not to keep the refrigerators anywhere near any of the heat producing objects such as oven, stoves, etc. placing it right under the sunlight is also not an advisable option. A slight 10℃ variation in the temperature around the refrigerator might cost you 20% more consumption of electricity.

4. Regular maintenance

Refrigerators have metal condenser coils placed at the back that help in getting rid of the heat produced by the compressor. Keeping the coils clean is an essential step to make sure your refrigerator lasts long as well as works efficiently. Cleaning them once a year should avoid the overworking of the compressor. Whether you have an automatic defrosting refrigerator or you have to do it manually, make sure your refrigerator goes through the regular cycle of frosting and defrosting to increase its efficiency. Frost build up should never exceed more than 0.25 inches in the evaporator. Higher the ice build-up, higher the energy required to keep the motor running.

5. Keep the doors closed

It might sound insignificant, but it plays a major role in maintaining the temperature within your refrigerator. Frequent and unnecessary opening of the refrigerator doors allows the escape of cool air making the compressor work harder in order to replace it. Also, make sure the gasket around the door is fit enough to stop the air from escaping. Torn or worn out gasket (seal) does not retain the cool air produced thus spoiling the food and aiding in high power consumption.

6. Turning- off the ice maker

Though ice makers are a boon for those days when you need a quick and large supply of ice within a limited period of time, ice makers consume more electricity than your regular refrigerator.  Automatic ice makers are known to increase power efficiency by 15-20%. So, probably you should consider turning it off when not required or once the tray is full.

7. Do not store hot food immediately

Allow your food to cool before stuffing them into your refrigerators. No matter how busy and hurry you are in. Abusing the appliance will lead to early deterioration of efficiency. Hot air and moisture inside the refrigerator will make the compressor work harder and consume more electricity.

8. Activate the energy saving mode

Most of the modern refrigerators come with an energy saving mode that helps in switching off the anti-sweat heater. Older models used to come with heaters to avoid condensation inside the unit whenever the door is opened and the cool refrigerator air meets the hot environment around the refrigerator. The new appliances with energy saving mode cut the need of the heater and in turn the need for extra power consumption.

9. Keep your refrigerator organised

No, this is not an article about good housekeeping, but did you know that a well-organised refrigerator saves energy? To ensure its maximum efficiency, store foods in their rightful places such as condiments and juice go to the door (warmest part), leftovers are supposed to be stored in the main top unit. Lower shelves are the coldest part of the refrigerator apart from the freezer. They are ideal to store dairy and meat products. Fruits and vegetables should be stored separately.

10. Consider the size

A nuclear family of four can do with a 320/360 litre refrigerator. Keep your requirement in mind before purchasing the appliance. Although triple door refrigerators look advanced and make good home decor, their efficiency is much less than a single door or two door refrigerators. Larger refrigerators with hardly any items within require more energy to maintain a particular temperature than a small one stored to its full capacity. Also, keep in mind that triple door refrigerators are not BEE rated.

11. The shape of the appliance

Although the framework and shape of the refrigerator do not directly affect its efficiency, it does have a considerable amount of importance in saving  energy. Refrigerators with top and bottom configuration are considered more energy efficient than the ones with a side by side feature. It is connected to the placement of the compressor plays an important role in deciding its efficiency.

Conclusion

Refrigerators are a boon during summers but they do require a bit of maintenance and care in order to function efficiently for a longer period of time. Government of India has made it easy for us to make decisions based on the requirement of power. Make sure the power requirement for your refrigerator suits the power supply in your area. A well BEE rated refrigerator can easily last up to 10 years with regular maintenance without burning a hole in your pocket.

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