Energy Consumption of Refrigerators

Photo of a refrigerator


Key facts

  • By 2016, 14% of standard refrigerators were 24.5 cu. ft. or larger.
  • Although refrigerator volumes increased between 1990 and 2016, the average annual UEC of refrigerators dropped by 59%.

For more information
  • To learn more about purchasing an energy-efficient refrigerator for your home, please visit our ENERGY STAR refrigerators page.

Average annual unit energy consumption

Refrigerators are available in a range of sizes and with a variety of features, all of which affect energy consumption. EnerGuide groups refrigerators by both refrigerator type and size. These groups allow the comparison of energy consumption among similar models.

From 1990 to 2016, the average annual unit energy consumption (UEC) of refrigerators dropped by 59%. Some factors contributing to this decrease include:

  • Introduction of the minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) in 1995
  • Subsequent amendments to the MEPS (2001, 2005, 2008, 2014)
  • ENERGY STAR’s 2008 and 2014 specification updates, as manufacturers implemented further improvements in order to qualify for the new specification

Check out our publication Choosing and Using Appliances With EnerGuide (PDF, 934 KB) for more information.


Average annual UEC of refrigerators, 1990-2016 (kWh/yr)

Average annual UEC of refrigerators, 1990-2016

Text version

Average annual UEC of refrigerators, 1990-2016 (kWh/yr)

Model year kWh/yr
1990 956.2
1991 931.2
1992 901.7
1993 719.6
1994 650.4
1995 641.6
1996 640.4
1997 656.5
1998 653.4
1999 645.5
2000 638.8
2001 558.9
2002 506.0
2003 487.1
2004 477.7
2005 469.2
2006 481.0
2007 483.1
2008 467.3
2009 430.1
2010 424.9
2011 421.4
2012 416.4
2013 421.3
2014 411.1
2015 387.9
2016 395.7
Note: The vertical lines shown in 1995, 2001, 2005, 2008 and 2014 refer to the introduction of and subsequent amendments to the MEPS for refrigerators. The vertical line shown in 2008 also refers to the ENERGY STAR specification update.

Refrigerator type

The popularity of different refrigerator types has implications for energy consumption.

The average annual UEC for refrigerators with a top-mounted freezer (Type 3) and refrigerators with a bottom-mounted freezer (Type 5) decreased significantly since 1990.

The average annual UEC for refrigerators with a bottom-mounted freezer and through-the-door ice service (Type 5A) and compact refrigerators (Type 11) decreased more moderately. The through-the-door option of Type 5A models contributes to extra energy consumption. Type 11 refrigerators consume the least energy and have little opportunity for improvements in energy efficiency.


Average annual UEC of refrigerators by type, 1990-2016 (kWh/yr)

Average annual UEC of refrigerators by type, 1990-2016

Text version

Average annual UEC of refrigerators by type, 1990-2016 (kWh/yr)

Type 3 (with top-mounted freezer) Type 5 (with bottom-mounted freezer) Type 5A (with bottom-mounted
freezer and through-the-door ice service)*
Type 11 (compact)
1990 947.4 1128.4 337.0
1991 923.2 1140.0 337.0
1992 873.5 1160.4 337.0
1993 702.4 782.5 337.0
1994 640.5 741.8 328.7
1995 630.8 752.6 330.6
1996 620.8 776.9 318.1
1997 635.0 631.1 317.0
1998 640.9 673.2 320.8
1999 635.9 665.1 322.4
2000 629.3 660.9 323.4
2001 544.1 610.2 330.6
2002 485.6 547.0 331.1
2003 460.8 522.4 323.1
2004 458.4 496.0 321.3
2005 453.8 493.2 327.8
2006 455.4 497.9 580.1 328.6
2007 453.5 490.8 572.7 328.3
2008 437.7 482.6 545.4 338.1
2009 424.4 462.9 560.0 318.1
2010 417.0 456.3 564.3 322.2
2011 417.1 454.6 542.0 297.5
2012 418.0 450.9 534.7 335.6
2013 415.0 448.0 534.6 278.1
2014 389.6 441.2 529.8 269.1
2015 336.3 434.6 528.8 234.6
2016 337.8 432.9 526.1 229.2
*Type 5A refrigerators first appeared on the market in 2006.

Refrigerator size

The size of refrigerators shipped in Canada increased significantly from 1990 to 2016.

In 1990, only 8% of standard refrigerators had a volume of 18.5 cubic feet (cu. ft.) or larger.

But by 2016, 52% of standard refrigerators had a volume of 18.5 cu. ft. or larger, and 14 percent of them were 24.5 cu. ft. or larger.

Despite getting larger, the average annual UEC of refrigerators has decreased significantly since 1990. This change is the result of substantial improvements to the energy efficiency of larger refrigerators.


Distribution of standard-size refrigerators by volume, 1990-2016 (%)

Distribution of standard-size refrigerators by volume, 1990-2016 (%)

Text version

Distribution of standard-size refrigerators by volume, 1990-2016 (%)

10.5–12.4 cu. ft. 12.5–14.4 cu. ft. 14.5–16.4 cu. ft. 16.5–18.4 cu. ft. 18.5–20.4 cu. ft. 20.5–22.4 cu. ft. 22.5–24.4 cu. ft. 24.5–26.4 cu. ft. 26.5–28.4 cu. ft. 28.5–34.4 cu. ft.
1990 13.8 18.5 14.7 45.0 2.7 4.1 0.6 0.6 0.0 0.0
1991 14.6 11.3 14.6 49.1 5.6 3.4 0.4 1.0 0.0 0.0
1992 11.1 10.1 19.9 42.7 8.4 5.7 1.2 0.4 0.4 0.0
1993 8.1 7.2 17.0 46.3 12.5 7.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.0
1994 9.8 7.1 17.0 47.4 9.0 8.8 0.3 0.4 0.2 0.0
1995 14.6 7.0 15.6 41.0 11.2 8.9 1.1 0.4 0.2 0.0
1996 13.8 6.9 13.6 39.3 12.7 11.5 0.9 0.8 0.4 0.1
1997 11.2 7.0 12.3 39.6 12.9 14.2 1.1 1.2 0.5 0.0
1998 9.7 7.3 11.1 44.5 11.5 12.3 1.6 1.5 0.3 0.1
1999 8.0 7.3 10.4 45.9 10.6 13.7 2.0 1.7 0.3 0.1
2000 7.0 8.2 9.7 44.1 9.9 16.4 2.0 2.2 0.5 0.1
2001 6.1 7.3 9.5 39.6 12.4 18.0 3.3 3.0 0.7 0.1
2002 5.9 7.9 7.2 36.9 16.3 17.4 3.7 3.8 0.8 0.2
2003 4.1 6.4 9.0 38.8 16.5 17.7 3.2 3.6 0.7 0.1
2004 3.2 3.5 11.6 41.6 15.2 16.9 3.1 4.6 0.2 0.1
2005 2.7 2.5 10.4 44.8 16.3 14.8 3.1 5.4 0.0 0.1
2006 3.7 2.6 10.0 41.3 17.8 14.7 3.6 6.3 0.0 0.1
2007 3.3 2.3 8.9 40.5 17.6 14.9 4.0 8.4 0.0 0.1
2008 4.0 2.3 6.5 40.1 22.4 12.6 4.8 7.0 0.0 0.1
2009 5.4 1.7 7.1 40.8 22.6 10.5 5.0 6.4 0.2 0.4
2010 5.2 1.5 6.3 39.7 23.0 11.3 5.1 5.9 1.1 0.9
2011 3.9 1.0 5.4 42.5 21.0 12.0 4.4 6.2 3.3 0.4
2012 5.3 0.9 5.3 38.2 20.7 12.9 4.6 7.5 3.9 0.8
2013 6.0 0.8 5.2 34.9 20.5 14.6 4.9 7.4 4.1 1.6
2014 5.8 0.8 8.2 31.3 16.4 17.6 6.2 7.2 3.0 3.5
2015 7.3 1.3 11.5 26.1 15.4 17.2 7.8 7.1 2.9 3.4
2016 7.0 1.3 9.4 25.6 13.8 19.4 8.5 8.3 3.6 3.1
Note: Data for compact refrigerators (those with a volume of less than 10.5 cu. ft.) data are not included in this analysis, due to the supplementary compact refrigerator data received since 2009 and its impact on data for previous years.

Average annual UEC of standard-size refrigerators by volume, 1990 and 2016 (kWh/yr)

Average annual UEC of standard-size refrigerators by volume, 1990 and 2016 (kWh/yr)

Text version

Average annual UEC of standard-size refrigerators by volume, 1990 and 2016 (kWh/yr)

Model year Volume (cu. ft.)
10.5–12.4 12.5–14.4 14.5–16.4 16.5–18.4 18.5–20.4 20.5–22.4 22.5–24.4 24.5–34.4
1990 740 850 955 1067 1133 1041 1478 1416
2016 325 321 323 350 417 441 499 511

Annual energy consumption per volume

While the average annual UEC of refrigerators shipped between 1990 and 2016 decreased, the energy consumption per unit volume decreased even more because of the higher efficiency gains of larger refrigerators. In 2016:

  • 93% of shipped refrigerators consumed less than 30 kWh/cu. ft. per year
  • refrigerators in the lowest energy range (less than 20 kWh/cu. ft. per year) achieved a market penetration of 43%

Distribution of standard-size refrigerators by average annual UEC per cubic foot, 1990-2016 (%)

Distribution of standard-size refrigerators by average annual UEC per cubic foot, 1990-2016 (%)

Text version

Distribution of standard-size refrigerators by average annual UEC per cubic foot, 1990-2016 (%)

10–19.9 KWh/cu. ft. per year 20–29.9 KWh/cu. ft. per year 30–39.9 KWh/cu. ft. per year 40–49.9 KWh/cu. ft. per year 50–59.9 KWh/cu. ft. per year 60–69.9 KWh/cu. ft. per year
1990 0.0 0.0 1.8 4.8 18.9 74.4
1991 0.0 0.0 3.5 13.1 32.9 50.5
1992 0.0 0.0 5.9 33.2 41.0 19.8
1993 0.0 0.1 55.8 32.5 10.0 1.6
1994 0.0 0.4 72.6 22.9 4.1 0.0
1995 0.0 2.8 65.3 30.2 1.6 0.0
1996 0.0 6.7 60.7 31.6 0.9 0.1
1997 0.0 7.0 60.6 31.5 0.9 0.1
1998 0.0 6.2 64.8 28.2 0.8 0.0
1999 0.0 8.8 64.2 26.2 0.6 0.2
2000 0.0 12.9 60.6 24.9 1.0 0.5
2001 0.0 47.5 36.8 13.5 1.4 0.9
2002 0.0 68.2 28.2 3.3 0.2 0.0
2003 0.1 81.6 16.2 1.7 0.2 0.2
2004 0.4 86.3 11.5 1.3 0.2 0.2
2005 0.6 91.5 6.9 0.2 0.2 0.6
2006 0.4 89.6 8.7 0.9 0.3 0.2
2007 0.4 90.7 7.9 0.6 0.4 0.1
2008 3.1 85.7 8.2 2.6 0.3 0.1
2009 4.2 86.8 6.2 2.2 0.5 0.1
2010 9.2 82.1 6.5 1.7 0.4 0.1
2011 10.6 80.5 5.3 1.0 0.4 2.1
2012 9.5 78.4 6.1 1.7 0.5 3.9
2013 10.8 76.9 7.4 1.7 0.5 2.7
2014 23.8 65.6 5.4 1.2 0.6 3.4
2015 41.9 49.8 2.2 0.8 1.7 3.6
2016 43.3 49.5 2.1 0.7 1.2 3.2