Purchasing any large appliance is always a big decision, but knowing what questions to ask can help you in making the best choice for your home and family. Here are five important questions you should get answers to before buying a refrigerator:
On average, roughly 8 percent of the typical electrical bill is attributed to powering the refrigerator. This makes it important to know how much energy the new refrigerator will consume in order to determine how much it will cost to operate, and how much you can save.
All refrigerators made in the U.S. are required to have an “Energy Guide” label affixed to the front that details the amount of power the unit uses, in kilowatt hours, expressed as “kWh,” and what it works out to in actual cost. Always consider these power-consumption numbers when making a decision in conjunction with the model that best fills all your needs. The running cost the labels lists is based on a fixed price of 10.65 cents per kWh, so use that number in tandem with what you pay per kWh for electricity, as listed on your electric bill.
The total capacity of refrigerators is listed in cubic feet, however the CF number doesn’t take into account space used by shelves and drawers. It is also important to consider how well groceries will fit. Side-by-side refrigerators typically have a large refrigerator space, but a narrow freezer compartment that often won’t allow larger items to fit properly. Gallon jugs can also be a problem for side-by-side refrigerators. While some have door bins designed for large items, not all do, so be sure to check this before making a decision. A good tip is to keep the packaging from everything you typically put in your fridge in a week’s time and take the boxes and jugs shopping with you, to be sure everything will fit in the new fridge.
This may seem obvious, but be sure to measure the area where the refrigerator lives before you go shopping. Be certain your new unit is at least one inch narrower than the space, to allow enough room for airflow around the sides and back. Also take depth into account. By definition, a “counter-deep” refrigerator will line up flush with your counter and cabinets. If you happen to have unusually-sized cabinets measure the depth of the cabinets to determine how the new unit will look once it’s in place.
A refrigerator should keep food at a steady temperature of approximately 34-degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer should run approximately at four-degrees Fahrenheit, but not all do. The best models will allow you to set a specific temperature, but others only offer a range on something like “1 to 10” with no indication of what setting provides what temperature. If you decide to go with one of the cheaper models a good thermometer is a must. Also, energy-saver modes will cut the amount of energy the unit uses, but at the expense of temperature control.
Some refrigerators may be able to pack a lot of groceries in a small area, but it must allow all family members to reach all the items. When shopping, test how hard it is to get the doors open to see if operation will be too difficult for the young and elderly. Test the drawers both full and empty, as some of the cheaper units tend to stick when loaded. Also check that the water and ice dispensers are within the reach of little ones.
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