Energy: Top Freezer Vs. Bottom Freezer
Refrigerators consume more energy than any other household appliance and can account for up to one-sixth of electricity used in the typical home, according to the California Energy Commission. As many distinct aspects affect refrigerator efficacy, only focusing on the positioning of the freezer compartment will be able to help you maximize energy efficiency when shopping for your next refrigerator.
Energy-Efficient Top-Mount Freezers
Generally speaking, top-mounted freezers offer higher energy efficiency than any other type of fridge layout. Units with a top-mounted freezer absorb 10 percent to 25 percent less energy than models with bottom- or side-mounted freezers, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Using less energy not only saves you money on monthly utility costs, but it can also help you reduce your impact on the environment by lowering your demand for fossil fuels like coal and oil.
Why Top-Mount Works
Old-fashioned refrigerators comprised a top-mounted compressor, which provided early 20th century units their iconic look. On modern finishes, this compressor is tucked away under the unit. As it works difficult to cool the refrigerator and freezer compartments, the compressor generates heat. Locating the freezer on the bottom of the appliance sets it near the compressor, which allows heat from the compressor to join the freezer, forcing the unit to work harder to keep this compartment cool. On a top-mounted freezer, the freezer is situated much farther out of the compressor, which helps keep the heat out and allows the unit to stay cool with less effort.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the typical refrigerator with a top-mounted freezer uses 472 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, in comparison to 551 kilowatt-hours to get an identically sized unit with a bottom-mounted freezer. Based on the average electricity price in California of 16.71 pennies per kilowatt-hours as of July 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the top-mounted unit would cost $78.87 to operate for one year, in comparison to $92.07 for the bottom-mounted unit. Choosing the top-mounted appliance in this case could save the average homeowner $13.20 annually and reduce electricity consumption by 79 kilowatt-hours.
Other Ways to Save
Along with choosing a top-mounted freezer, homeowners may also cut energy usage by selecting an Energy Star-rated appliance, that uses 15 percent less energy than nonrated models, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Stick to freezers measuring 16 to 20 cubic feet and then avoid oversized models. In addition, skip the through-the-door ice and water dispensers, which increase energy use by 14 percent to 20 percent, according to the DOE. Finally, pick a refrigerator without an anti-sweat heater, because these models consume 5 percent to 10 percent more energy than units with this feature, according to the California Energy Commission.