Energy Consumption of Refrigerators

Photo of a refrigerator


Key facts

  • In 1990, only 0.6% of shipped refrigerators were 24.5 cu. ft. or larger, whereas in 2016, 13.7% of them were in that volume category because consumers tended to prefer larger models.
  • Although refrigerator volumes increased between 1990 and 2016, the average annual unit energy consumption (UEC) of refrigerators dropped by 59%.The average annual UEC increased by 21% from 2016 to 2017 because of changes in the testing procedures of appliances.1

For more information

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.2 These groups allow the comparison of energy consumption among similar models.

Factors contributing to the 59% decrease in average annual UEC include:

  • Energy efficiency improvements, coinciding with the introduction of, and subsequent amendments to, the minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) in the Energy Efficiency Regulations,
  • ENERGY STAR’s 2008 and 2014 specification updates, as manufacturers implemented further improvements to qualify
  • More stringent MEPS and updated test procedures came into force in 2017, through Amendment 13 to the Energy Efficiency Regulations

See Choosing and Using Appliances With EnerGuide for more information.


Average annual UEC of refrigerators, 1990-2017
Text version

Average annual UEC of refrigerators, 1990-2017

Shipment 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
2017 478.3
Notes: 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.
The vertical black line indicates that energy consumption figures from 2017 onward incorporate changes introduced in Amendment 13 to the Energy Efficiency Regulations and are not directly comparable to previous years' data.

Refrigerator type

The market share 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.3


Average annual UEC of refrigerators by type, 1990-2017
Text version

Average annual UEC of refrigerators by type, 1990-2017 (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
2017 373.0 538.5 708.5 223.3
*Type 5A refrigerators first appeared on the market in 2006.
Note: The vertical black line indicatesthat energy consumption figures from 2017 onward incorporate changes introduced in Amendment 13 to the Energy Efficiency Regulations and are not directly comparable to previous years' data.

Refrigerator capacity

The capacity of refrigerators shipped in Canada increased significantly from 1990 to 2017.

In 1990, only 8% of standard refrigerators4 had a volume of 18.5 cu. ft. or larger and less than 1% of them were 24.5 cu. ft. or larger.

By 2017, 63% of standard refrigerators had a volume of 18.5 cu. ft. or larger, and 17% of them were 24.5 cu. ft. or larger.


Distribution of standard-size refrigerators by volume, 1990-2017 (%)
Text version

Distribution of standard-size refrigerators by volume, 1990-2017 (%)

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
2017 6.7 1.4 6.9 22.2 15.3 22.5 8.3 10.3 3.4 3.0
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 2017 (kWh/yr)
Text version

Average annual UEC of standard-size refrigerators by volume, 2017 (kWh/yr)

Shipment 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 24.5–26.4 26.5–28.4 >28.5
2017 333 360 369 407 504 578 656 650 725 511

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.5 In 2016, 93% of refrigerator shipments consumed less than 30 kWh/cu. ft. per year.


Distribution of standard-size refrigerators by average annual UEC per cubic foot, 1990-2017
Text version

Distribution of standard-size refrigerators by average annual UEC per cubic foot, 1990-2017 (%)

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
2017 3.4 71.3 9.2 2.3 1.5 12.3
Note: The vertical black line indicates that energy consumption figures from 2017 onward incorporate changes introduced in Amendment 13 to the Energy Efficiency Regulations and are not directly comparable to previous years' data.


  1. Test procedures for measuring energy efficiency were updated as a result of amendments to the Energy Efficiency Regulations that came into force in 2017. Test procedures for refrigerators and freezers were improved to better capture the energy used by defrost cycles, a common feature in these products. The updated test procedures mean energy consumption figures from 2016 onward are not directly comparable to previous years' data.
  2. Complete list of .
  3. Natural Resources Canada, Energy Consumption of Major Household Appliances Shipped in Canada, 1990–2017 , Table 3.
  4. Excludes compact models.
  5. Natural Resources Canada, Energy Consumption of Major Household Appliances Shipped in Canada, 1990–2017 , Table 12.