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How to find an energy efficient alternative to American-style fridge freezers

Posted by Amanda Harvey on 31 October 2013 at 9:43 am

American-style fridge freezers are often prized as a must-have appliance for a modern kitchen – and the bigger the better it seems! But should you choose a supersized fridge to complete your kitchen or opt for something more energy efficient?

Whether you’re planning an entire kitchen redesign or just looking to replace your current fridge-freezer, it’s tempting to follow the crowd and order an impressive-looking double door appliance. However, unless you regularly feed a crowd too, can you really justify the enormous energy cost of running an extra-large fridge-freezer?

The American Dream

Big is beautiful in America – especially in the kitchen. Twice as large as standard British fridge-freezers, the American-style fridge-freezers available today have capacities of around 350 litres in the refrigerator and 200 litres in the freezer. That means they can store around 1000 cans of cola and 400 tubs of ice cream!

Suburban Americans living through hot summers and inhospitably cold winters may feel the need to store weeks’ worth of food and soft drinks throughout the year. However, industry experts predict that the majority of us Brits will use the internet for our bulky shopping while continuing to do small ‘top-up’ shops for fresh items in the supermarket’s growing number of local convenience stores.

If you prefer to eat fresh food rather than frozen fare or things that have been stored in the fridge for a week – and you don’t consume large quantities of soft drinks – why not take a look at the many stylish smaller appliances on the market?

Big fridge = big energy bill

While an A++ energy efficiency rating on an American style fridge can seem like a green light, it’s important to remember that a larger refrigerator will always use substantially more energy than a smaller one, however efficient it has been designed to be. And if a large refrigerator or freezer is half-empty, the energy costs will be even greater.  

An A++ fridge-freezer with a 300 litre total gross capacity costs around £33 a year to run, based on an energy cost of 14p per kilowatt per hour. Meanwhile, a 600-litre fridge-freezer with the same energy efficiency rating will use twice as much energy – and even more if it is left unstocked.

A 600-litre American fridge-freezer rated as A+, meanwhile, will cost at least £91 a year to run.

Greener and leaner alternatives

Before you begin shopping for a fridge-freezer, take some time to consider how much storage space you really need.

For a streamlined finish opt for built-in appliances with an A+++ energy efficiency rating. Neff, Bosch, MieleSiemens, Liebherr and LG are the main brands taking a lead in producing integrated appliances with high-efficiency motors and increased insulation.  

Bear in mind that fridge-freezers with the freezer on top are the most energy-efficient (by up to 16 per cent according to research). If you are conscious that the look of your energy-efficient fridge-freezer is not quite on trend, it can be seamlessly incorporated into your kitchen design by being housed in bespoke cabinetry in your choice of material and finish.

If the tide then turns against energy-guzzling American style fridge-freezers, you can be sure your energy efficient built-in appliance will never become the colossal elephant in the room!

All photo credits: Miele 

About the author:

Amanda Harvey is a freelance food and kitchen design writer who regularly contributes to the daily kitchen blog for

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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