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Old freezers…a personal lesson...beware of running costs!

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Old freezers go on forever, but they can be REALLY energy hungry as I discovered to my cost a few months ago.

I had two tall upright ones similar to the one in this picture. They had been handed down to us several years ago.

I monitored their energy use over the course of several months using smart plugs and each was costing almost £250 a year to run. It was a big shock.

I bought a second hand four-year-old A+ freezer as a replacement and have been monitoring its energy consumption over the weeks since. This newer one costs less than £80 a year to run!

If you have a freezer that is so old, then you could be in a similar situation.

The same will be true for fridge-freezers, and possibly fridges.

This article shares my thoughts on how you can work out for yourself whether your old freezer or fridge freezer is likely to be energy hungry like mine were.


How will you know if your freezer is energy hungry?

I wish I could give you an absolutely certain way of working it out but here are some strong clues that can help:

  • In warm weather in particular or if the appliance is in a warm room you can hear the motor running a lot of the time

  • It isn't a self-defrosting freezer

  • If you can't find the product model number on it anywhere (usually just inside the door) then it is a pretty strong clue that is from a bygone era

  • If the interior isn't maintaining a temperature of around -20C (one of mine was only getting as low as -10C)

If it is young enough and you can find the product model number of the appliance you might be able to find it on this web site If you DO find it here, look for the annual kWh energy consumption figure. Multiply that figure by £0.27 (the energy tariff cap from Oct 2023) and you will have the approximate annual running cost in £.

If you are thinking of replacing it with a new or newer one:

  • You can use the same Productz website to compare the running costs of newer or new ones to the one you have to work out how much energy you might save you replacing what you have.

  • If you are in a domestic appliances showroom, the energy labels on all new products show a kWh figure which you can use to work out the running costs

  • Alternatively, if you unsure of how to do the running cost calculations and comparisons and are in a showroom ask a member of staff to work it out for you. They SHOULD be competent at doing that.

If you CAN'T find your appliance or one you are interested in on the Productz website do try Googling the model number as you might find the kWh figure online, even if it is in the online owner's manual pdf (most are easily findable online).

I can highly recommend using an energy monitoring plug like one of these to actually measure the energy used by your existing appliance. With a freezer plugged in to a monitor over a week or two they will give a very good indication of how much energy is being used by the appliance.

My Dads expensive 'workbench'

Alternatively if you want to measure one over a long period of time you can use one of these smart plug energy monitors which you can conveniently check from your phone. I have several. They are incredibly cheap and very easy to set up and use.

A freezer in a warm location (say a very sunny kitchen) will use a little MORE energy than the manufacturers estimates and have to work harder in hot weather.

While it might be easy to assume the reverse is true and that a freezer in a cold location (such as a garage) will consume LESS than the manufacturers estimates, this might be the case when they are cool but they may not work properly if they approach or go below freezing.

Freezers aren't guaranteed to work below freezing as this Which article explains, though some certainly will. If you want a freezer for a very cold environment such as a garage its really important to check the technical information for any models you are interested in.

I just need to persuade my Dad now that the old chest freezer in his garage is actually a very expensive to run bench...


Other tips from my experience

  • Both of my older freezers were set at the ”normal” thermostat temperature so the cause of my high costs wasn't because the controls were set incorrectly

  • Defrosting both old freezers didn't actually improve their energy usage much.

  • Running them only part full actually increased the running costs further.

  • Household recycling centres will take your old appliance for recycling.

  • The A-G energy rating system changed in March 2021. My “newer” freezer was A+ in the old system. On the new scale it would have been an F. This web page gives a very useful guide to this change.

  • Freezer technology has improved dramatically in recent years. Even though my NEWER one is much more efficient than my old ones the newest ones are typically 20% even more efficient.

  • One big advantage of modern freezers of course….they never ice up!…so you can always access that buried treasure - the tub of ice cream!

All costs shown above are based on the standard UK tariff from October 2023 of 27p/kWh


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Mark Thompson

Get Energy Savvy - simple practical home energy efficiency information

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1 Comment

Oct 28, 2022

Thankyou , I’ve just bought a new chest freezer cos mine was easily 15 yrs old . Hope it makes a difference

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