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Fridge-freezer economics

Depending on size and type, a fridge can cost as little as a new laptop or as much as a spa pool. Regardless of choice, a fridge-freezer is always running. While month-to-month you might not notice the impact on your power bill, this cost adds up over the long term. Our analysis shows an extra-large french-door model costs upwards of $5300 including the purchase price and running costs over 10 years. This compares to a medium-sized bottom-mount that costs $3300 on average. That’s a difference of $2000 — so are you still sure you need all that extra space?

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Life-cycle costs

To estimate the costs of owning and operating a fridge-freezer over a decade, our analysis uses purchase price and average daily energy use, factoring in:

  • inflation
  • bank interest rates, and
  • increasing power costs.

We calculated costs for each size and type of fridge-freezer we’ve tested.

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Multi-drawers

Multi-drawer, also known as multi-door, fridge-freezers have compartments in addition to the standard fridge and freezer compartments. These extra compartments are often dual-zone areas, which can be set for either refrigerating or freezing. Some have a humidity drawer for storing fruit and vegetables. We have only tested one multi-drawer model so far, the Westinghouse WME3600SA, which means we don’t have enough data available to analyse the life-cycle costs for this type.

Size matters

It’s tempting to get the largest fridge-freezer you can afford and that fits into your kitchen. But before you make a purchase, we recommend thinking about what size you really need.

With the largest average 10-year cost ($4400), extra-large fridge-freezers are good for large households or families who shop every few weeks.

We estimate a typical family of four doing its main shopping trip once a week needs a large fridge-freezer. This size costs an average of $3600 over 10 years.

If you shop more often or have fewer people in your household, then consider a medium fridge-freezer, which costs $3100 a decade.

If you’re downsizing, you could consider a small fridge-freezer. These have the lowest life-cycle cost of just over $2100.

Style

Once you know what size fridge-freezer you’re after, then you need to choose the style. This also affects the life-cycle cost.

  • French-door fridge-freezers are the most stylish models, with two doors opening into one fridge compartment and a freezer in the bottom. They often have optional water and ice dispensers, though these can affect how much storage space is left in the fridge. Generally, they aren’t very energy-efficient — guzzling an average 1.5kWh daily. Over 10 years, these fridges end up costing $5300 on average.

  • Side-by-side fridge-freezers have two vertical doors with the freezer on one side and the fridge on the other. They can be power-hungry, with an average daily power use of 1.7kWh. The average life-cycle cost for a side-by-side fridge-freezer is $3800, making them the most economical choice when it comes to extra-large fridge-freezers.

Single-door fridge-freezers are the most popular type in New Zealand:

  • Bottom-mount single-doors, where the freezer is the bottom compartment, have an average power use of 1.2kWh each day and an average life-cycle cost of $3300.

  • Top-mount single-doors, where the freezer is above the fridge compartment, have the lowest daily energy use of all the types at 1.1kWh. They have the lowest life-cycle costs of all fridge-freezers with an average of $2100.

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Make the right choice with our test results and buying advice. Whether you’re after a tiny apartment-sized model or a huge side-by-side for a family, we have a recommendation for you.

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