How much does it cost to run a fridge freezer? Plus, ways to make savings

Another big bill got you wondering how much it costs to run your fridge freezer? We've worked it out – and have the lowdown on cutting those costs
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  • As the large appliance that’s always on, you’d be justified in wondering how much does it cost to run a fridge freezer when checking your electricity bills. After all, it could be having a big impact as it guzzles away on power, 24/7.

    Keeping your fresh and frozen food cold is a full-time job, so in order to save, you can’t really use your fridge freezer less. However, there’s plenty you can do to cut costs every day as well as over its lifetime.

    We’ve worked out how much you can expect to spend on powering your fridge freezer – as well as ways to make it more affordable to run, helping you save energy at home.

    How much does it cost to run a fridge freezer?

    The easiest way to work out how much it costs to run a fridge freezer is to get a smart meter that can tell you in real time. However, if you don’t have one, a simple calculation will tell you.

    First, you’ll need to know how much you’re spending on electricity – you can see this on your bill. According to the Energy Saving Trust the national average price (as of November 2021) per pence/kWh of electricity is 20.33p. We have rounded it to 20p for illustration purposes.

    The main factors that affect how much energy a fridge freezer uses are its efficiency rating, features, and its type. Roughly, the larger the appliance, the more energy it’ll require. This means that a small F-rated fridge freezer might be more efficient than a large E-rated one, especially if the full capacity of the larger model isn’t used.

    An example F-rated 70/30 287-litre fridge freezer uses 275 kWh per year, making its annual running costs £55.

    While an example E-rated 70/30 267-litre fridge freezer uses 232 kWh a year, resulting in running costs of £46.40.

    Upgrade to an example D-rated 70/30 294-litre fridge freezer and its usage is 156 kWh a year, costing just £31.20 to run annually.

    A word about energy ratings…

    It’s worth knowing that energy ratings changed on December 1, 2021. That’s because, under the old system, appliances were increasingly given A+, A++ and A+++ ratings as technology improved, which was confusing for customers. So in 2021, the system was recalibrated, and the ratings given from A to G.

    As a guide, products that were previously A+ in 2020, are now likely to be rated F or G. A++ is now classified as D or E, and A+++ translates to a B or C rating.

    compact kitchen with mint green fridge and grey and white units

    Image credit: Future/ James French

    Are some fridge freezers cheaper to run than others?

    Fridge freezers are available in different sizes and styles, and these characteristics can impact how much it costs to run any particular model.

    • Larder-style fridge freezers have different splits between fridge and freezer space, ranging from 80/20 – fridges with more of an icebox – to 40/60 with more freezer space than fridge. They can be freestanding or integrated ie designed to be fitted with cupboard doors.
    • American-style or side-by-side fridge freezers typically have the fridge on one side and the freezer on the other, and may also have an integrated water dispenser. They offer plenty of cooling capacity but even the most energy efficient models can be pricey to run.
    • Four-door fridge freezers and French-door fridge freezers, which have double doors for the fridge section and freezer drawers, are variations on the American-style fridge freezer design. This can make them slightly more efficient day-to-day than a typical American-style fridge freezer as less cold air is lost when opening smaller sections.

    Larger fridge freezers will cost significantly more to run than larder-style models. ‘For example, if you were to compare a larder fridge vs French-door fridge freezer, the difference in running costs is vast,’ says Luke Shipway, Product Manager at Caple.

    ‘Per year, our 294-litre E-rated RIL1796 larder fridge would cost £22.40, while our F-rated CAFF42 609-litre French-door fridge freezer would be £84.20.’

    grey kitchen with island

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Rachèl Reeve

    What energy saving features should I look for when buying a fridge freezer?

    1. Clever compartments

    Less cold air loss means lower running costs, so make use of your fridge freezer’s sections, including crisper drawers, lidded compartments and sectioned freezers. Some models also include door within a door access to the fridge, which mean you’ll lose less cold air if you only need to reach for the milk or juice, or doors that transform from opaque to clear, so you can see what’s inside the fridge without having to open the door first.

    2. Inverter compressor

    Compressors are what make your fridge cold, converting refrigerant from gas to liquid when required and stopping when the temperature is low enough. Inverter compressors, compared to the start-stop regular type, do this more efficiently, running more consistently and at a controlled speed to use less energy.

    3. Holiday mode

    Keep running costs down when you’re away by enabling the holiday mode. This sets the fridge to a higher temperature (such as an economical 15C) as you’re unlikely to be leaving fresh food in it, while not affecting the temperature of the freezer.

    A wine fridge and freestanding fridge freezer along one wall under the stairs

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme

    How can I cut the cost of running a fridge freezer?

    1. Stay cool

    Cold air is lost every time you open a fridge or freezer door, making the appliance work hard to reduce the temperature again. ‘Only open the fridge freezer doors when needed and don’t leave them open for too long,’ advises Luke Shipway. Let food cool down before putting it in the fridge as it’ll have to use energy to get rid of the warmth, and, as a fuller fridge has less air to keep cool, pop in bottles of tap water between shops. Three-quarters full is ideal to keep cold air flowing around the compartments.

    2. Bust the dust

    The coils on the back of the fridge are part of the condenser that cools the air inside. However, if they’re dusty, they can prevent the fridge freezer from cooling properly. According to Which? thick dust can reduce the efficiency by as much as 25%. Try to clean them a couple of times a year – unplug your appliance, use a vacuum attachment to remove most of the dust, then brush away the rest. Our guide to how to clean a fridge freezer will help you keep your appliance in tip top condition.

    3. Say no to ice

    Grab your rubber gloves and get defrosting if your freezer isn’t frost-free. A thick layer of ice takes up space and stops the freezer from working as efficiently.

    4. Put it in the right place

    Where a fridge freezer is in your kitchen can affect how efficient it is. For freestanding models, make sure there’s enough ventilation around the back, top and sides so it can release heat from the compressor, and where possible, keep the appliance away from ovens, radiators and direct sunlight.

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