Having a mini-fridge is quite handy whether you’re a college student or a working adult, as you can fit this in your dorm or office so that your meals and beverages are handy and cool. When you think about the all of different kinds of uses and advantages that a mini-fridge offers, it’s hard to remember whether the unit will use a lot of electric energy or not. When you’re shopping for this home product, you should be mindful about whether you’re willing to spend more on electricity or if you’d like to conserve power once this additional unit is in your home. Before we talk about the amount of power that a fridge uses, let’s talk about the types of ways to classify electric usage.
Watts and Kilowatts
A lot of fridges today just list the number of watts they use while it’s on and running. For example, NewAir mini-fridges use about 85 to 100 watts of electricity depending on their size. Smaller fridges don’t cycle on and off as much as their larger counterparts do, so on average mini-fridges will use fewer watts of electricity.
But what are kilowatts? You have to convert the watt-hours into kilowatt-hours (kWh) if you wish to calculate the fraction of power your mini-fridge will contribute to the total amount of electric power your household is using in total. This is because utility companies bill you for electricity based on your kilowatt-hours. To convert watt-hours into kilowatt-hours, all you have to do is move the decimal point three places to the left. For example, 560 watt-hours are 0.560 kWh.
How Much Energy Do Mini-Fridges Use?
As mentioned earlier, although the general impression is that your mini-fridge isn’t necessarily on, it’s always running. What this means is that the fridge keeps its contents cool by using its compressor to go through cooling cycles that are on or off. There are multiple factors that affect how often the cycles occur though, including the temperature setting on the fridge, the frequency of which you open the doors, the amount of food inside, and the temperature of the room in which the fridge is.
To get a sense of how much energy your small fridge is using, take a look at the EnergyGuide label on the unit. All compact fridges are part of the federal EnergyGuide labeling program that was created to help consumers understand the amount of energy major appliances would be using. This information is usually imprinted on a bright yellow and black sticker that says EnergyGuide at its top. There are two types of information that you will find on this sticker: (1) how much it costs to run the mini-fridge to a year, assuming that you pay 12 cents for one kilowatt-hour, and (2) approximately how many kWh the mini-fridge will consume in one year.
Are Mini-Fridges Expensive to Run?
Once you check the EnergyGuide stickers on the mini-fridge unit, you’ll see that the operating costs vary across the size and brand of the product. When the fridge is more on the smaller end, you’ll see that the operating costs vary between $20 and $40 per year. But there are significant differences that will account for the variance in a mini-fridge’s operating cost.
Note that the smaller the fridge, the less energy it consumes compared to larger ones. Another factor that impacts the operating cost of a fridge unit is whether or not it has an automatic defrost feature. This feature usually adds a bit more to the energy consumption.
In general, the operating cost of a mini-fridge is less than $40, but if you’re debating on whether or not to purchase a small or a large fridge, it’s worth comparing the two units. Full-sized fridges are not only double the size of small fridges but they also consume twice as much energy as compact models. However, bigger fridges have six to eight times the cooling capacity than smaller fridges do, so you’d be paying more per cubic foot of cooling space for a mini-fridge.
Conserving Energy Tips For a Mini-Fridge
When you picture a mini-fridge, it’s almost inevitable to think about how to stack the most amount of beverages inside. Well no matter what’s inside of the fridge, there are few things that you can do to ensure that you’re saving energy whether or not you’ve already bought a unit that’s labeled with a low operating cost.
If the fridge is not being used or if its contents are something that suffices to be room temperature, then you can leave the unit completely empty so that you can unplug it. This gives you the opportunity to pull the plug on something that you’re not using so that you don’t pay the bill on its energy consumption later. Another thing that you can try is cleaning the vents and coils regularly so that you ensure that there’s proper airflow getting into the unit. After a while, there is quite a bit of gunk that builds up so it would be best to perform a bit of maintenance to make sure that the fridge is running the way it’s supposed to.
Other tips for conserving energy while using your mini-fridge are not putting it inside of an enclosed cabinet. Also be sure not to place it next to external sources of heat, such as an oven or an HVAC vent. Don’t do these things because the external temperature is a factor that dictates the number of cooling cycles the fridge uses to cool its contents. A hotter exterior would mean more cooling cycles, which equates to a more expensive operating cost.
A mini-fridge is always useful to have around, whether it be for your own personal use or if you plan on storing things in it that are meant for social events. Especially if you’re a college student, the best mini fridges for dorms are those that are compact yet still big enough to fit things such as water purifiers, snacks, and other beverages. How much electricity a mini-fridge takes can be a big factor when purchasing this appliance. Abiding by a university’s energy use guidelines is always the trickiest, so we hope that this post has helped you understand the operating cost and electric use of mini-fridge units.
Written by Julia Batista