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LG 26.2 Cu. Ft. Energy Star Side-by-Side Refrigerator with LCD TV & Weather Center
Editor's Pick: LG 26.2 Cu. Ft. Energy Star Side-by-Side Refrigerator with HD Ready LCD TV & Weather Center

How to Buy an Energy-Saving Refrigerator

By Tanja KernSHOP.COM For the Home Editor

If there was a popularity contest for appliances, refrigerators would probably win hands down. In most homes, there's a lot of bustle around the fridge as your family grabs snacks and prepares meals. That's why it's important to buy the right one for your needs, and size, style, features and price are all key qualities to consider. Energy efficiency is also a must-have to keep your utility bills low. Read on to see how to save and where to splurge...

Refrigerator Details

Step 1Capacity: A refrigerator's capacity is measured in cubic feet. Most refrigerator manufacturers recommend approximately 10 cubic feet for two people, adding another 1.5 cubic feet for each additional family member. Larger families will find refrigerators between 26 and 30 cubic feet most useful. Buying a refrigerator that is too big for your needs, however, can waste energy and cost more to run if you don't keep it filled with food.
Step 2Size: How much room do you have for your new refrigerator? Be sure to carefully measure before shopping. Measure the width, depth and height of the space. Also, take into account the swing radius of the refrigerator door and whether you will be able to get the new appliance into your home.
Step 3Energy efficiency: Modern refrigerators use two-thirds less energy than models made 25 years ago. Appliances with an ENERGY STAR label are recognized for being the most efficient on the market, which will help you save money on energy bills. Some municipalities also offer up to $100 in rebates for homeowners who install ENERGY STAR appliances, so check with your local utility company.
Step 4Features: Refrigerators today come with a variety of practical features, such as adjustable and spill-proof shelves, icemakers, water dispensers, storage drawers and crispers. In-door refreshment centers are another cool feature; these mini compartments in the door of the refrigerator keep snacks within easy reach and allow you to access without letting out all the cool air within the fridge.
Step 5Style: Choose a model that compliments your kitchen decor. Most kitchen designers recommend matching the finish of all the appliances in your kitchen for a unified look.

Refrigerator Features

ENERGY STAR: ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy, helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and practices. ENERGY STAR appliances meet strict energy-efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Side-By-Side: These models have the freezer and refrigerator spaces next to each other, making it easier to see and access what's in both spaces. The doors require less clearance, making these models great for small spaces. One down side: the narrow depth of the shelves on these units make it difficult to fit wide items, like sheet cakes and big packages from club stores.
Top Freezer: The freezer is mounted on the top of the refrigerator. These models are typically the least expensive and are easier to fit in small spaces.
Bottom Freezer: The freezer is mounted on the bottom of the refrigerator, giving you more convenient access to fresh food compartments without having to bend over. This also puts more of your most frequently used refrigerated items at eye level.
French Door: A top-mounted refrigerator that opens with dual French doors. You can conserve some energy on these units by opening just one door for quick access to your favorite foods. The bottom freezer is usually a pullout drawer.
Built-in: A refrigerator that is integrated into your cabinetry and hidden behind custom cabinetry panels.
Counter Depth: These refrigerators will be flush with your cabinets.

Refrigerator Experts

Refrigeratorpro.com says the Jenn-Air Bottom Freezer French Door Refrigerator is a consumer favorite for its gorgeous design and spacious capacity. Jenn-Air refrigerators have a reputation for reliability and their list of unique features.
Good Housekeeping says that kids can easily reach into both sides of the Sears Kenmore Elite, which has a Pur Ultimate water filter, a door bin that keeps milk icy cold and bright lights that make it easy to find leftovers. In the freezer, there's a vertical section for stashing pizzas.

Refrigerator Brands

General Electric

Refrigerator Pricing

$: Hotpoint 18.2 cu. ft. Top-Freezer Refrigerator You'll find great value at this price point and a few basic features, such as adjustable shelves and upfront temperature controls.
$$: Maytag 26 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator Mid-range refrigerators offer a variety of conveniences, such as filtered water and ice dispensers, vegetable crispers, meat drawers, spill-proof shelves and easy-to-clean components.
$$$: LG Titanium Fridge with LCD TV & WeatherPlus Info Center Luxury models at this price point have sleek style, customizable handle and panel options, multiple insulated door compartments or electronic shelf and temperature adjustments. Some also offer televisions built into the door.