Looks will matter when it comes to choosing a new fridge-freezer, but capacity is every bit as important. Gone are the days when having a generous fridge meant wrestling with a minute freezer and vice versa - the latest wave of flexible refridgeration has one or two compartments that can be fridge or freezer on demand.
It's clever stuff that gives you ultimate flexibility. As we all know, our refrigeration needs are not the same day in, day out. If you are making bulk meals to freeze or want to take advantage of offers at the supermarket, you'll need extra freezer space. In summer, you're more likely to want more chiller space for meat for the barbecue and let's not forget the beer to go with it. Likewise, just after doing a big shop or when you are entertaining, you'll want more fridge space.
Pioneers of this kind of flexible refrigeration include AEG, Samsung, Haier and Beko. And the good news is, these appliances are not as expensive as you might think. Beko's Multi-Zone fridge freezer (shown above) starts at just under £500.
The big drawer
Such flexibility is not just for upright models. Fisher & Paykel's CoolDrawer (below) switches from refrigerator to freezer at the push of a button, offering an impressive five temperature settings - freezer, chill, fridge, pantry and wine - which makes it one of the most versatile options on the market. Frequent entertainers might consider installing a single drawer as an additional fridge to keep ingredients cold in the run up to an event then switching to chill mode to for serving beers and soft drinks.
Get the best from your appliance
Standard fridge-freezers also some great features to help tailor refrigeration. Many good-quality fridges have a fish/meat/dairy compartment, which maintains a constant temperature between zero and five degrees. Some offer precision-controlled humidity that's designed to keep food fresher for longer, preserving the nutritional value of fruit and vegetables. The official term is ‘zero-degree compartment' but manufacturers often have their own names.
And you can make the most of your appliance by selecting the correct humidity level and temperature for what you're storing - fresh vegetables need more humidity, while meat should be stored at zero degrees. Whirlpool's
6th Sense Fresh Control continually checks the humidity throughout the entire fridge, maintaining levels at 70 to 85 per cent. Look for cooler buttons, which let you to bring the temperature of the fridge down quickly if you've just filled it with a fresh shop.
• A family of four requires around 250 litres of fridge-freezer space for a weekly cooking/shopping cycle
• The average side-by-side fridge freezer offers 340 to 380 litres of fridge
space and 160 to 180 litres of freezer capacity
• Fridge temperature should be set below 5° to keep food fresher for longer
• Most multi-zone compartments can be adjusted from -24° to 10° at the touch of a button
• According to Whirlpool, a modern fridge freezer can save the average household around £1,600 on food waste and energy during its lifetime
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