The £ savvy way to buy a fridge, freezer or fridge-freezer
This article aims to help you understand how much energy it will actually cost to run a fridge, freezer, or fridge-freezer when you are choosing, to help you make informed comparisons and decisions.
For 25 years, kitchen appliances were rated using an A to G energy labelling scale to help you choose the most economical products to buy.
BUT the system can be very confusing. For example, two products in category F can still use quite different amounts of energy.
So, if you are looking for the lowest running costs when buying an appliance, relying on the A to G scale won't actually help much.
I'll show you in this article how to calculate the actual annual energy costs using the manufacturers published energy consumption figures for a given product. This is written as the number of kWh on product literature and on energy labels in showrooms.
Using this method will give you much more useful purchasing information than using the simple A to G scale.
It is also commonly thought that to get the most energy efficient appliance means buying the most expensive products. I'll show you here that this is definitely NOT the case. It is actually often possible to find less expensive products that cost less to run than more expensive choices.
Fridges and freezers are also some of the most reliable home appliances we use so "cheaper" doesn't necessarily mean "unreliable".
The costs below all assume the energy price tariff prior to April 2023 of around 35p. The costs will now be a little lower than shown here as the price cap for electricity is now around 30p.
How to work out what the appliance will cost you to run
It's important to mention for information, that the A to G labelling system was completely changed in March 2021 so don't be put off by products that are showing energy efficiencies E or F for example!
This method to work out annual running costs applies to all fridges, freezers, and fridge-freezers.
The kWh figure is always the expected number of energy units used in a year based on standard tests that the manufacturers have to comply with. It is a very good prediction of real-world costs in my experience.
To calculate your likely annual running costs for a specific product just multiply this kWh figure by your energy tariff in pence per kWh.
So, if your tariff for electricity is the standard capped tariff from October 2023 of 27p per kWh, and the kWh for a particular product is 300 kWh, the annual cost works out as:
300 x £0.27 = £81.
Economy 7 tariffs: if you are on an Economy 7 tariff the annual cost of the appliance will actually work out the the same. Although the appliance will cost more to run during the day on the daytime tariff it will be much cheaper to run at night on the night-time tariff.
If you need any specific guidance on working this out drop me a line through the web site and I'll see if I can help.
Real showroom comparisons and examples
If you are in an appliance showroom, this kWh figure is clearly shown on the labels by law.
These two small freezers were in my local Currys PC World the other day. Although they are both in energy efficiency band F, the one on the right has much lower running costs. It is actually much bigger internally too.
As you can see in the photo above, both products are virtually identical and at the same price, but the difference in annual energy costs is significant. These sorts of products can easily last 20 years so in time these sorts of differences will add up.
Below are some comparisons of fridge freezers that are almost the same size. The cheaper one is the cheapest to run.
I find a web site www.productz.com also very useful for researching the energy use of any type of domestic appliance but if you know a product you are interested in just Googling and a little digging on the product specification stuff and you will find the kWh figure.
The geeky area
The story about product labelling changes and reason for this blog
The energy labelling on kitchen appliances has been around for 25 years with a scale going from A to G to indicate how energy efficient a product is.
We have become used to most products being at least A rated, or over the years A+, A++ and even A+++ as manufacturers have made products that are more and more efficient. When the scale was originally invented the industry didn't realise that A was not going to be high enough.
In March 2021 the scale was drastically revised for many product types including kitchen appliances. Depending on the type of appliance what might have been an A++ appliance before might now be an D, E, or even F on the new scale. The reason for this is to give a new challenge on the manufacturers to further improve energy efficiency and move UP the new scale.
This is why you shouldn't be alarmed that most products are only E or F rated these days. The products haven't suddenly got worse.
A problem has always existed though, which is how does a consumer calculate how much energy two similar products use, and what will that difference actually make to annual bills? If a consumer sees a D rated product next to an E rated product it is not clear how much money will be saved on using the D.
This is an example of text from one website advert for a dishwasher:
'E energy rating means it may not be the most efficient, but it still won’t add too much to your monthly utility bills'
I don't think that is very helpful!
A lot of the information online is also very confusing. This screenshot is for a freezer. It shows all sorts of energy performance ratings without any explanation.
Thankfully the one important thing that all these products show as you can see at the bottom is a kWh figure.
The kWh figure should by law be displayed on the energy label on all appliances in showrooms (you will see many examples later). For online buying, the kWh is sometimes buried in the 'more details' or 'full specification' section for a product, and will need digging out with Google.
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