I love your column in Sierra, but I felt cheated by your answer to the question about refrigerators in the July/August issue. Since a few manufacturers make fridge-only models, why didn't you let us know if they are indeed more efficient than the combo fridge-freezers that are most common? It would seem easier to buy one of these outright than to transform a freezer into a veggie cooler.
--Janis in Gambier, Ohio
Yours is a very valid complaint. I got so infatuated with the exquisitely Rube Goldbergian maneuver of converting a freezer to a fridge that I completely ignored the obvious: If you don’t want or need a freezer, you can indeed procure a refrigerator without a freezing compartment. In general, freezer-free models take somewhat less power than combination models of comparable size.
Speaking of size, small remains beautiful. Big units usually require more power than small ones. Hence, in purchasing any kind of refrigerator, you should consider what size you need. Do we truly have to have a 25- or 30- cubic-foot behemoth that eats more than 700 kilowatt-hours per year, or could we get by with a modest 16-footer that requires only 400 kWh?
Also, ask yourself if you need all that function – the ice maker and other gadgetry costs more and uses more energy. Some folks could probably even downsize to the 3.1 cubic-foot Fisher & Paykel fridge-only model with the lowest power demands of all, 145 kWh a year – without diminishing their quality of life.
To explore the possibilities among 1,876 Energy Star-qualified refrigerators and freezers and pinpoint the best one for you, click here to go to a site that lets you create lists of any given combination of types, sizes, brands, and Energy Star ratings. (Energy Star-qualified models are at least 20% more efficient than already required by federal policy.)
To narrow your search to the most energy-efficient fridge-only models, click here.